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ViaSat-1 To Transform North American Satellite Broadband Market
[January 08, 2008]

ViaSat-1 To Transform North American Satellite Broadband Market

(Space Daily Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) ViaSat has executed a contract with Space Systems/Loral, a subsidiary of Loral Space and Communications, to build ViaSat-1, which is expected to be the world's highest capacity broadband satellite. With the market demonstrating high demand for satellite broadband services, ViaSat-1 is designed to significantly expand the quality, capability and availability of high-speed broadband satellite services for U.S. and Canadian consumers and enterprises.

Compared to current Ka-band broadband satellites, the ViaSat-1 satellite, optimized to work in conjunction with ViaSat's next generation SurfBeam networking system, is expected to increase the amount of capacity by more than a factor of 10. ViaSat, a world leader in powering innovative satellite broadband platforms, has secured financial commitments from partners of over $100 million to date towards ViaSat-1 and will finance the remainder from cash on hand, future cash flows and available borrowing capacity.

Collaborative Effort of Strategic Partners

ViaSat-1, with a launch planned for early 2011, involves a collaborative effort with top satellite broadband leaders in the market including Loral, Telesat, and Eutelsat. Loral is investing in the Canadian coverage portion of the satellite in anticipation of Telesat using this capacity for the provision of broadband services throughout Canada. The satellite is planned for the Telesat 115 West longitude orbital slot as part of the agreement.

Telesat will provide telemetry, tracking and control (TT and C) operations for the satellite. Telesat has been a pioneer in the development of broadband services. Its ANIK F2 satellite was the world's first major Ka-band spot beam satellite and provided the initial U.S. capacity for WildBlue Communications.

ViaSat-1 is the North American counterpart to Eutelsat's recently announced KA-SAT, a high capacity Ka-band broadband satellite for Europe planned to launch in 2010. ViaSat and Eutelsat are cooperating closely around ViaSat's Ka-band SurfBeam networking system and a common wholesale business model to offer service through ISPs, telecommunication companies, and direct-to-home television providers to serve subscribers. Both projects are focused on providing satellite and teleport infrastructure.

Eutelsat and ViaSat are already partnering on Eutelsat's Tooway Ka-band service using the HOT BIRD 6 satellite. Telesat is Canada's leading broadband satellite provider, also based on Ka-band SurfBeam. The aggregate U.S., European, and Canadian coverage can serve as many as 4 million satellite subscribers with unprecedented speeds and internet media capabilities - creating powerful economies of scale.

Faster Speeds Than The Median for Cable and DSL

Today's announcement marks a major leap forward in the provisioning of advanced broadband services via satellite. The system is designed to provide a range of speeds that extend well above the median for cable and DSL at retail pricing the same as existing satellite services. Services based on Ka-band technology have proven highly successful in the U.S.

There are over 600,000 satellite broadband subscribers today in hard-to-serve areas in the U.S. and Canada, and those on Ka-band have been by far the fastest growing segment. However, high demand for these services has exceeded the bandwidth supply and capped growth. There are simply not enough bits in space to provide service on a par with high speed terrestrial systems and to scale the business.

It does not have to be that way, said Mark Dankberg, CEO and chairman of ViaSat. Day to day consumer internet interactions involving high-bandwidth activities like video and multimedia were not part of the plans when earlier satellite services were designed. We are aiming to give consumers a vastly improved experience based on the most advanced technology on the market. These new capabilities are not only technologically very feasible, they're also affordable, and the satellites announced by ViaSat and Eutelsat are designed to demonstrate this in a very capital-efficient and scalable manner.

Eclipsing All Current Satellite Capacity

The amount of bandwidth enabled by ViaSat-1, coupled with ViaSat's next generation SurfBeam networking system, is unparalleled. Total throughput is designed to be over 100 Gigabits per second, which is more capacity than today's entire fleet of two-way Ka-, C- and Ku-band capacity over North America combined. Yet the satellite will be built on a heritage Loral 1300 series platform with bus power and mass well within the range of other satellites in use or under construction.

ViaSat To Supply All Satellite Ground Systems

ViaSat will provide its next generation SurfBeam DOCSIS broadband network infrastructure and subscriber terminals to the U.S., Canadian, and European networks, along with technical and operational support. Over 500,000 SurfBeam Ka-band broadband satellite terminals have shipped, reaching a peak of almost 90,000 units in the last quarter alone. The new satellites will also be used to project existing businesses into Ka- band including enterprise broadband services, video entertainment, mobile broadband, and defense satellite communications.

Dankberg added, This is a technology opportunity that is right in our sweet spot. We provide ground systems for many commercial and government satellites, and as our activity in satellite payloads has increased, we realized that we could make a major breakthrough by simultaneously designing the spot beam satellite and the ground segment. At the same time, this strategic partnership combines our expertise and economies of scale in broadband modems and Ka-band MMICs, with the benefit of our partners' extensive experience in designing, launching, and operating advanced satellites and services.

Copyright 2008 Space Daily, Distributed by United Press International

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