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ViaSat's Satellite based Internet Service Could Rival Terrestrial

ViaSat said it is demonstrating its "next generation satellite broadband service with the highest speeds at the most affordable prices ever offered by the platform" at Satellite 2009 in Washington DC this week. According to the company, the ViaSat-1 Ka-band broadband satellite is scheduled to be launched in 22 months.

ViaSat-1 is expected to have more capacity than the combination of all other satellites in operation over the United States. ViaSat-1 will offer download speeds of 2 to 10 Mbps at retail prices competitive with comparable terrestrial services.

Mark Dankberg, CEO and Chairman of ViaSat, explained, "Having provided broadband equipment to over half a million unserved customers in North America, we have been focused on reaching this community for over a decade. We have the history and appreciation for the needs and challenges in delivering broadband to these people efficiently, wherever they are. Our next generation technology demonstration, delivering speeds of 5 Mbps on average, is proof that a satellite service, with the appropriate speed and bandwidth allocation, is actually better than most existing terrestrial broadband services—especially DSL and wireless. For the first time, satellite can support large video downloads, streaming HD, media rich Web sites, good quality VoIP, video chat, and gaming. With so much bandwidth available on our satellite we can relieve the congestion that clogs existing satellite services—and deliver surprising speed and responsiveness. Many telecom providers are arguing that it is impossible to provide these speeds of service to the unserved and rural communities. We're putting that fallacy to rest this week with this demonstration. Plus, our satellite service will be an open network platform—enabling a range of competitive retail service providers and offerings everywhere it reaches."

Total throughput through ViaSat-1 is expected to be 100 Gbps. For more years than I like to remember I've been expecting Ka-band Internet connectivity to provide an inexpensive alternative to conventional satellite news gathering (SNG). Perhaps ViaSat-1 will make that a reality within the next two years.

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.