Satellite internet isn't exactly something people usually get excited about. In reality, it's a worse-case scenario type of option for many rural homes. But nonetheless, it's an option, and an option at all is better than none. Particularly when that option is getting better by the year. ViaSat has transmitted the first data over the ViaSat-1 high-capacity satellite and the WildBlue high-speed data network, and this new bird should allow for greater speeds and more online fun than ever before. The initial transmissions and receptions were completed the evening of December 2 from a SurfBeam 2 terminal at ViaSat's Carlsbad campus, through the ViaSat-1 satellite and a gateway located in Milford, Utah. The test included email, web surfing, and video streaming, proving the power of the integrated network. The satellite, designed and owned by ViaSat, is the highest capacity satellite in the world.
Once in-orbit testing is complete (planned for mid-December), satellite manufacturer Space Systems/Loral will hand over operation of the 140 Gbps capacity satellite to ViaSat and partner Telesat. ViaSat will then begin the final phase of integration with the network of 20 SurfBeam 2 ground stations that connect the satellite to the Internet backbone. Commercial service is expected to begin prior to the end of calendar year 2011.
"We have advanced satellite technology to the point that satellite can now be a better alternative for broadband Internet than DSL, and 3G / 4G wireless offerings for fixed home use - an enormous leap for satellite broadband technology," said Mark Dankberg, chairman and CEO of ViaSat. "The ViaSat-1 satellite will help bridge the 'digital divide' in the U.S., and we're confident that this new service has been designed in a way where it will be attractive to a large segment of the U.S. population - delivering both speed and value to the underserved."
The ViaSat-1 high-capacity Ka-band spot beam satellite includes coverage over North America and Hawaii, enabling a variety of new, high-speed broadband services for WildBlue in the U.S., Xplornet in Canada, and JetBlue Airways on its domestic U.S. fleet.