ViaSat, Inc.

 

ViaSat, Inc. provides high-technology networking and signal processing equipment and services for broadband digital satellite and other wireless communications. In fiscal 2002, defense-related contracts accounted for about two-thirds of the company's business, with commercial contracts accounting for the remaining third.

Mark Dankberg, Mark Miller, and Steve Hart started Viasat, Inc. in a spare bedroom of Dankberg’s house. All three were former executives at M/A-COM Linkabit, a San Diego-based manufacturer of satellite telecommunications equipment and had complementary skills and remain in key roles at the company today. They formed ViaSat for the purpose of obtaining contracts from defense companies that were bidding on satellite programs. ViaSat provided engineering and proposal support for these companies. Dankberg became ViaSat's chairman and CEO, and Miller and Hart shared chief technical officer (CTO) duties, with Hart later becoming vice-president of engineering.

 

As a reseller of satellite hardware (antennas, equipment for communications on the move, military satcom and many other satellite hardware products), ViaSat is changing the perception of the satellite Internet, globally. As a broadband service company, ViaSat has set out to advance global connectivity beyond what traditional telecom, wireless, cable or fiber could deliver, by solving one of the hardest communications problems: making the Internet accessible and affordable to all.



History

ViaSat was co-founded in May 1986 by Mark Dankberg, Mark Miller and Steve Hart. Mark Dankberg became CEO and Mark Miller and Steve Hart became CTO. ViaSat received venture capital financing of 300k USD from Southern California Ventures. In December 1996, ViaSat had its initial public offering (IPO) and offered 20 million USD in stock to the public, leaving the founders with 28% of the company and venture capital backers with 20%.

The acquisition of the satellite networking business of Scientific-Atlanta (SA) for 75 million USD in cash in 2000 helped ViaSat to focus on providing technology for interactive services to businesses. Also in the year 2000 ViaSat launched a spin-off company, TrellisWare Technology, a self-funded company focused on solutions for ground communications problems.


In 2001, ViaSat started working with Boeing on Connexion broadband for airliners and acquired Lockheed Martin Global Telecommunications' products unit, Comsat Laboratories. Comsat Laboratories was ViaSat's technology and product development group for communication systems focusing on developing new technologies for extremely bandwidth efficient, high data rate satellite transmission. In 2001, ViaSat also purchased US Monolithics, a company focused on designing high frequency broadband circuitry, for around 30 million USD. In March 2001 ViaSat won a contract with WildBlue Communications worth 16 million USD to build WildBlue's satellite modems to support the company’s initial service launch. WildBlue signed a second contract with ViaSat in 2001 for 17 million USD and ViaSat would develop and produce satellite modem termination systems for six gateway stations. Eutelsat entered an agreement in 2001 to use ViaSat’s LinkStar high performance IP terminals for their broadband multimedia network over Ku-based FSS satellites. ViaSat entered a joint venture in 2001 with Loral Skynet to found Immeon Networks to develop the Immeon satellite bandwidth-on-demand service sold in monthly-managed service plans. ABC News used Immeon to improve its voice and data-communications for on-location news.



Wildblue Communications, Inc.

In October 2009 ViaSat acquired USA’s fastest growing ISP and privately held WildBlue in a 443 million USD cash and 125 Million USD in ViaSat stock deal.

ViaSat is a reseller of satellite hardware (antennas, equipment for communications on the move, military satcom and many other satellite hardware products) and needed a retail marketing arm for the broadband business it is trying to create. The company developed the SurfBeam Ka-band technology used by WildBlue in the USA and by a number of Canadian broadband providers through Telesat satellite operator. ViaSat does not provide services; it provides satellite equipment and technology.

When ViaSat saw a business opportunity in the satellite broadband market it wisely chose to offer a wholesale service to retailers. This is the European model and the one followed by ViaSat’s European partner Eutelsat with it’s Tooway service.

In Europe, this model has worked and it seemed like a good idea for North America. A wholesale product would play to ViaSat’s strengths and would offload the sales and billing functions onto organizations designed for that purpose. Since ViaSat had an orbital slot and had the ViaSat-1 satellite on order at Space Systems/Loral (SS/L) satellite manufacturer, retailers were needed.

WildBlue was founded as KaSTAR Satellite Communications in April 1995. The FCC approved FSS licenses and orbital locations for two satellites then called KaStar-1 and -2 in May, 1997. The Satellite names were changed from KaStar-1 and -2 to iSky-1 and -2 in 1999 when KaSTAR was renamed into iSKY, Inc.

On February 2nd 2000 iSKY formed a strategic alliance with Arianespace for the launch of iSKY's first two satellites, iSKY-1 and iSKY-2. The iSKY-1 satellite was scheduled to be launched in Q3 of 2001 and iSKY-2 would be launched mid 2002.

In March 2000 WildBlue leased capacity of the Ka-band payload on Telesat’s Anik F2 satellite but certain spot beams ran out of capacity early. Then WildBlue launched WildBlue-1 and the same thing happened. Finally WildBlue leased the Ka-band payload on EchoStar’s AMC-15 satellite that was to be used to provide service to subscribers in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia and Arkansas. Still, AMC-15 carries only 12 Ka-band transponders and the writing is on the wall. WildBlue needed more capacity and they didn’t have another satellite on order.

In September 2000 the satellites were again renamed into WildBlue-1 and -2 when iSKY, Inc. became Wildblue Communications, Inc.  headquartered in Denver, Colorado.

The company was established to accelerate consumer broadband access to the Internet in smaller cities and throughout rural America. WildBlue entered into an agreement to obtain the Ka-band rights to TeleSat's Anik-F2 satellite at 111° W, increasing WildBlue's North American capacity and strengthening its position in the key part of the orbital arc. WildBlue also had FCC applications filed for Europe and Asia and plans to roll out service to these geographies as licenses are granted. WildBlue selected Space Systems/Loral (SS/L) as the prime satellite contractor for the construction of WildBlue-1, its first satellite. WildBlue-2, the Ka-band payload of Telesat's Anik-F2, is under contract to be built by Hughes Satellite Systems (Boeing CSS). And WildBlue-3, WildBlue's third satellite, was in the process of being procured. WildBlue had contracted Arianespace to launch its first two satellites.

The launch of Wildblue-1 satellite was scheduled in 2001 but was delayed due to the 9/11 events. The economic impact on Wildblue was hard that resulted in a reorganization. The built of the satellite was suspended and the satellite was put in storage at SS/L. Wildblue was seeking for new partners and restarted business in 2003 with one satellite business plan based on Anik-F2 satellite after a 156 Million USD investment  of Liberty, Intelsat and NRTC with Kleiner Perkins and David Drucker.



ViaSat is changing the perception of the satellite Internet, globally. As a broadband service company, ViaSat has set out to advance global connectivity beyond what traditional telecom, wireless, cable or fiber could deliver, by solving one of the hardest communications problems: making the Internet accessible and affordable to all.

In May 2013, ViaSat gave the construction contract of the satellite to Boeing Commercial Satellite Services (BCSS). On May 1st, 2014 ViaSat sold capacity on the satellite to Xplornet Communications. In January 2015, ViaSat gave the launch contract to SpaceX in an uncontested auction. After SpaceX CRS-7 exploded after launch in June 2015, concerns arose that the investigation may affect the mission's launch window. On February 9th, 2016 Arianespace announced it had won contracts to launch ViaSat-2 and ViaSat-3 in 2017 and 2019, respectively.

ViaSat-2 was on June 1st, 2017 by Arianespace from the Guiana Space Centre in French Guyana. The launch date was originally set for April 25th, 2017 but was delayed due to social unrest affecting the spaceport area.

Currently ViaSat, Inc. has worldwide 27 gateway’s and is Head-Quartered with a Network- and Satellite Operations Center in Denver, Colorado, USA.



ViaSat satellites

ViaSat has three satellites, ViaSat-1, built by Space Systems/Loral (SS/L) and launched on a Proton rocket by ILS launch operator from the Baikonur launch site in Kazakhstan in October 2011, the WildBlue-1 and Anik-F2. ViaSat purchased WildBlue in 2009, which had 2 satellites and 400,000 customers that time. Earlier, in October 2004, WildBlue launched its Internet service after gaining Ka-band transponder capacity on the Anik F2 satellite operated by Telesat Canada. It conducted formal technical testing until January 2005, followed by nationwide beta testing before the first residential retail customers had services installed in June. The WildBlue service was upgraded in 2007 using the satellite WildBlue-1 satellite which launched the year before.


ViaSat-1 was launched in 2011 and is part of a new satellite system architecture created by ViaSat Inc. to create a better satellite broadband user experience, making satellite competitive with DSL and wireless broadband alternatives for the first time. The satellite is a high-throughput satellite and is jointly owned with Telesat from Canada owning the Canadian beams and is used for the Xplornet broadband service to consumers in rural Canada). It runs on fixed beams and can handle about 1 million users and covers the residential US with additional coverage in Hawaii, Canada and Alaska through a Ka-band connection. ViaSat-1 will be expanded with the launch of ViaSat-2 satellite, built by Boeing Commercial Satellite Services (BCSS) that is scheduled for launch by Arianespace launch operator in June 2017. The coverage area includes Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, parts of northern South America and aeronautical and maritime routes across the Atlantic Ocean. Today ViaSat-1 is full with 700,000 Internet subscribers and powers in-flight Wi-Fi on more than 500 commercial aircraft from JetBlue, American Airlines, United Airlines and Virgin America, delivering video streaming speeds to each seat. The satellite also provides in-flight Wi-Fi to Air Force One and other government VIP aircraft.

In November 2015, ViaSat announced that it was planning to order the first of three ViaSat-3 Ka-band satellites that would expand coverage globally with throughput capacity of one terabit per second for each of the satellites.


ViaSat-2 is the ViaSat’s second satellite which will be the world's highest capacity communications satellite after its launch by Arianespace in June 2017 with a throughput of 300 Gbit/s, succeeding EchoStar XIX that was launched in December 2016. It is the second Ka-band satellite launched by ViaSat after ViaSat-1. The ViaSat-2 satellite is expected to bring considerable improvements in terms of speed, lower costs and extended broadband coverage within footprint and will provide Internet connectivity through Exede Internet to North America, parts of South America, the Caribbean and the aeronautical and maritime routes in the Atlantic Ocean.


The ViaSat-3 series of high capacity broadband satellites consists of three satellites for global coverage, which will offer broadband services to consumers, airlines and other businesses. The first satellite will serve the Americas and scheduled to launch in late 2019 or early 2020 and is expected to provide more than 15 years of service life. The second satellite for EMEA will follow soon after. The third satellite, supporting the Asia-Pacific region, is not yet ordered The ViaSat-3 constellation of satellites is built by Boeing Commercial Satellite Services (BCSS). Each satellite is expected to deliver more than 1 terabit per second of network capacity.





References:

www.viasat.com
www.wikipedia.org
www.govtech.com  edition February 6th, 2017
www.spacenews.com  editions January 4th, 2010, February 14th & May 25th, 2017
www.space.skyrocket.de
www.exede.com
www.wildblue.com
www.sdbj.com  edition December 21st, 2016
www.satbeams.com
www.prnewswire.com  Edition February 2nd, 2000
www.comlinks.com March 2002, editorial by Alan J. Simpson
www.youtube.com





Satellites

Wildblue-1 (KaStar-1, iSky-1, WB-1)

Orbital Position: 111° W
Manufacturer: Space Systems/Loral (SS/L)
Launch date: 08 Dec 2006
Launch Operator: Arianespace S.A.
Launch vehicle: Ariane 5ECA
Expected life time: 15 years

Note: ViaSat is owner of the Wildblue-1 satellite after the acquisition of Wildblue in 2009 to expand ViaSat’s broadband Internet services. The launch was scheduled in 2001 but was delayed due to the 9/11 events. The economic impact on Wildblue was hard that resulted in a reorganization. The project was suspended and the satellite was put in storage at SS/L. Wildblue restarted business in 2003 after a 156 Million USD investment and leasing capacity on Anik-F2 of Telesat Canada.

YouTube: Watch the assembly of Wildblue-1 satellite by SS/L and the launch by Arianespace!

Wildblue-2 (Anik-F2, KaStar-2, iSky-2, WB-2)

Orbital Position: 111° W
Manufacturer: Hughes Satellite Systems (Boeing CSS)
Launch date: 18-July-2004
Launch Operator: Arianespace S.A.
Launch vehicle: Ariane 5ECA
Expected life time: 15 years

Note: Wildblue leased Ka-band transponders on Telesat's Anik-F2 satellite since 2000. VIasat acquired Wildblue in 2009 to expand ViaSat’s broadband Internet services.

ViaSat-1

Orbital Position: 115° E
Manufacturer: Space Systems/Loral (SS/L)
Launch date: 19 October 2011
Launch Operator: International Launch Services (ILS)
Launch vehicle: Proton
Expected life time: 15 years

Note: ViaSat-1 satellite is jointly owned with Telesat Canada. The satellite provides in-flight Wi-Fi on more than 500 commercial aircraft from JetBlue, American Airlines, United Airlines and Virgin America. The satellite also provides in-flight Wi-Fi to Air Force One and other government VIP aircraft.

YouTube: See the historic launch of ViaSat-1, the world's highest capacity satellite in 2011.

ViaSat-2

Orbital Position: 70° W
Manufacturer: Boeing Commercial Satellite Services (BCSS)
Launch date: 01 June 2017
Launch Operator: Arianespace S.A.
Launch vehicle: Ariane 5ECA
Expected life time: 15 years

Note: Dual launch with Eutelsat-172B satellite. The launch was scheduled in January 2015, by SpaceX. After the Falcon 9 rocket explosion with Spacecom AMOS-6 spacecraft on board, concerns arose that the investigation may affect the mission's launch window. ViaSat re-awarded the launch contract to Arianespace in 2016. The launch date was originally set for April 25th, 2017 but was delayed due to social unrest affecting the Arianespace spaceport area in French Guyana.

YouTube: Watch the ViaSat-2 satellite promotion video

YouTube: Watch the Arianespace dual launch of ViaSat-2 & Eutelsat-172B satellites from the Spaceport in French Guyana

ViaSat-3

Orbital Position: 115° E
Manufacturer: Boeing Commercial Satellite Services (BCSS)
Launch date: 2019 (estimated)
Launch Operator: TBD
Launch vehicle: TBD
Expected life time: 15 years

Note: First satellite out of three high capacity broadband satellites for global coverage, which will offer broadband services to consumers, airlines and other businesses. The first satellite will serve the Americas.