ViaSat Brings Speedy Satellite Broadband To UK

British and European businesses, as well as governments and the military, are now being offered what ViaSat UK is touting as a competitive satellite broadband service, after it launched its products into the European market.

ViaSat already offers high speed broadband via satellite in the United States and the company also makes a range of security products including flash drives and memory sticks that are certified for storing top secret data, after it acquired UK security specialist Stonewood.

New Satellite

In Europe the company has offered satellite broadband by using capacity on partner satellites such as Eutelsat’s KA-band satellite, but ViaSat has now launched its own satellite, ViaSat-1, into orbit over the US and Canada, which it says is now the world’s most powerful satellite for provisioning high speed broadband.

“Satellite design has changed dramatically and it used to be the case that there was a small pipe going up to the satellite, with a huge pipe down offering a broad reach, kind of like the Sky setup,” explained ViaSat UK chief executive Chris McIntosh to eWEEK Europe.

“Now new satellite’s are far more balanced and offer people far more communication abilities both up and down,” McIntosh said. “ViaSat-1 for example can offer 100Gbps capacity, which is twice as much as the other 14 satellites up there put together.”

McIntosh acknowledged that there were definitely still misconceptions about satellites, such as it’s too expensive, but he explained, “It is an interesting challenge to break these misconceptions, people must really be listening to take it in, but for people who cannot get cable it is an easy sell,” he said. “But it is also useful for those people stuck in areas in the UK where broadband lines speeds are poor. It is an education process and is a long battle, but it is happening.”

Homes, Businesses, Governments

ViaSat UK is therefore offering its own satellite broadband service to both home users, Soho users, businesses, governments and the military, at what it feels is highly competitive rates when compared to fixed-line or mobile-based alternatives.

For example home owners in areas with either no fixed broadband coverage, or even those homes with poor lines speeds, are being offered a satellite broadband service that costs £25 a month, for 6Mbps down, with 1Mbps up. £100 per month will get you 10Mbps down and 4Mbps up.

“The majority of customers we are targeting aren’t necessarily stuck out in tiny villages, rather they are at the edge of metropolitan areas but still can’t get decent cable services. For them, we can offer a service comparable to cable,” McIntosh told eWEEK Europe.

Satellite has long been envisaged as one way to bridge the so called digital divide in this country.

In February this year the European Commission vice president for the Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes, wrote to 21 of the EU’s 27 member states, including the UK, urging them to remove the legal obstacles to the introduction of satellite broadband as a matter of “urgency”.

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...

View Comments

  • Bandwidth and prices look good, but what sort of latency does their service have? I've used satellite broadband before, albeit older tech, and the latency made it near impossible to use for anything realtime e.g. VOIP, desktop sharing, etc.. Be interesting to hear if they've managed to address or mitigate that somehow.

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