ViaSat Outlines Plans For 100Mbps Satellite Broadband

ViaSat has announced three next generation satellites, each of which will have more bandwidth than all existing Internet satellites currently in orbit.

And the satellite Internet Service Provider has also announced a joint venture with Eutelsat to expand satellite broadband provision in Europe and the Mediterranean.

New Satellites

For the new hardware, ViaSat has teamed up with Boeing to build ViaSat-3. This will see ViaSat building three satellites that can provide 100Mbps broadband globally – speeds which the firm says are similar to, or even faster than hard-line terrestrial fibre-optic cables.

And these new satellites will also have lots of capacity.

The firm says a single ViaSat-3 satellite has more capacity than every commercial satellite currently in orbit combined, as the new satellite offers over 1-Terabit per second of network capacity.

There are currently thought to be 400 commercial communications satellites in space today.

Besides offering home owners 100+ Mbps broadband, irrespective of their physical location, these next generation satellites will also provide speedy in-flight broadband to airline passengers. It will also offer 1Gbps speeds for maritime use, including ships, and oil and gas platforms.

ViaSat has begun work on two of these ViaSat-3 satellites, whilst Boeing Satellite Systems is working on the delivery system to outer space. The firms expect delivery in 2019, and the first two satellites will focus on the Americas and Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), respectively, with a third satellite system planned for the Asia Pacific region.

The new satellites will be compatible with ViaSat-2 class terminals, “to extend coverage, improve transmission speeds and further reduce network capacity costs to a fraction of what they are today.”

“The innovations in the ViaSat-3 system do what until now has been impossible in the telecommunications industry – combining enormous network capacity with global coverage, and dynamic flexibility to allocate resources according to geographic demand,” said Mark Dankberg, chairman and CEO of ViaSat.

“While there are multiple companies and consortia with ambitions to connect the world with telecom, satellite and space technologies, the key technologies underlying ViaSat-3 are in hand today, enabling us to move forward in building the first broadband platform to bring high-speed internet connectivity, including video streaming, to all,” said Dankberg.

European Venture

ViaSat is not just looking to the new generation of space hardware, but is also looking to expand its reach in Europe, after it signed a joint venture with Eutelsat.

This deal will expand satellite broadband in Europe and the Mediterranean, as ViaSat essentially becomes a partner in Eutelsat’s regional wholesale broadband business by acquiring a 49 percent stake in that wholesale business for the sum of 132.5m euros (£103m).

The new venture will be owned 51 percent by ViaSat and 49 percent by Eutelsat, and will launch a new consumer retail service in Europe, by initially using KA-SAT, Eutelsat’s high capacity broadband satellite that was launched into space in late 2010.

That deal is expected to close sometime this year, subject to the usual closing conditions and regulatory approval.

“With KA-SAT, our unique dedicated High Throughput Satellite, Eutelsat has built an effective, high-quality, broadband platform for Europe in which ViaSat has played a key role as technical partner,” said Michel de Rosen, Eutelsat Chairman and CEO.

“Broadband is an important component of our strategy, and we seek to partner with market-leading companies that contribute to enriching our offer. Our joint venture will take our relationship to a new level and give further impetus to affordable, high-quality Internet services in Europe,” said de Rosen.

“Eutelsat is the clear leader in the European broadband market and is an obvious partner in extending our global reach,” said ViaSat’s CEO Mark Dankberg. “We have worked together for more than a decade…we complement each other extremely well.”

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Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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