Satellite Broadband Poised For Takeoff As Orbiters Get Smaller

Satellites built by broadband hardware and service provider, ViaSat, are getting smaller, and more capable, said chief executive officer Mark Dankberg. According to Space News, he told investors, “They only require utility cabinets instead of dedicated buildings for their local hardware, they support more spectrum, and are much less expensive to maintain and operate. They are also designed for high reliability and tolerance to terrestrial network outages and weather effects.” ViaSat currently operates a three satellite system, but the company recently applied with the FCC to operate twenty-four satellites in medium-Earth orbit – around 8,200 kilometers above Earth. Dankberg  wants each satellite to be capable of a terabit of throughput.  He acknowledged One-Web, the well funded start up projecting to put 648 satellites in low Earth orbit and “blanket the globe with broadband.”  As Dankberg sees it, “the market is big enough.”

Space News went on to report the company’s spending on research and development has grown drastically in the past year – growing by $34.2 million year-over-year. The company is working on development of the ViaSat-3 satellite. Dankberg compared his company’s research to other wireless companies. He said, “Just as mobile operators are driving to smaller, less expensive cells to improve coverage, total capacity, and capacity density, satellite systems must do the same thing with gateways.” ViaSat plans to launch its first three satellites starting in 2018, and start wireless service in the Americas by 2019. It currently serves 675,000 subscribers, and will offer data speeds of 50, 75 and 100 Mbps once the new satellites launch.

February 17, 2017

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