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Globally Connected: Locally Sustainable

(page 5 of 15)

Think Satellite

ViaSat, Inc.

We hardly give a second thought to how we’re getting some of our TV shows and weather reports. Or how our car’s Global Positioning System can tell us how to get to our destination. Or even how we’re able to stream videos to our various devices. Hint: think satellites.

Satellites are very much in the background of our daily lives, and ViaSat, Inc., the Carlsbad, California-based satellite company is betting on increasing that presence all across North America and Hawaii, with the launch of its $400 million ViaSat1 satellite from a site in Kazakhstan later this year. The company has transitioned from making satellite ground equipment to becoming a high-speed satellite Internet provider. It started by acquiring the satellite Internet provider WildBlue in 2009, currently serving 400,000 subscribers on the continental U.S. The first hurdle for its expansion plans will be proving that satellite Internet service isn’t slow, expensive and limited.

“The fact is that ViaSat1’s 130 gigabits of capacity will give us ten times what we now have, which is also more capacity than all the satellites across North America put together,” said ViaSat senior vice president Tom Moore. “Speed depends on capacity, and with this much bandwidth, we will be able to provide affordable high speed Internet service all across the continental U.S., Alaska and Hawaii.”

One of the company’s goals is to expand broadband Internet service beyond WildBlue’s unserved rural markets to underserved customers who may already have choices such as DSL or cable broadband.  “We believe we’ll be highly competitive with our new breed of satellite service,” said Moore.

ViaSat’s subscribers are 50 percent retail, while the others are wholesale satellite TV and telecommunications customers such as DirectTV, Dish, AT&T, and Century Link.

To support delivery of this new service, ViaSat is building out a network of 21 gateways or uplink centers, including one at the Kapolei Teleport. “These gateways will be our access into the Internet,” said Moore. “The Kapolei gateway will provide access to a number of locations in Alaska, Oregon, and parts of California.”

ViaSat expects that the Anchorage gateway that will serve Hawaii will be ready to deliver service to the islands in February 2012.  “We’re excited about coming to Hawaii to provide service in both populated and rural areas of the state.”

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