ViaSat had a lot to talk about at this year’s AIX, including its new Gen 2 terminal equipment, the upcoming launch of the ViaSat-2 satellite, and its plans for the next-generation Ka-band ViaSat-3 satellites.
It is also close to announcing a media flight for its Ka-band users on Qantas in Australia as the service continues to develop through its test phase.
Don Buchman, Vice President and General Manager, Commercial Mobility at ViaSat, said the Gen 2 equipment, which will enable compatibility between the ViaSat-1, -2 and -3 satellites will be available to install in May.
“What we’re bringing to the in-flight internet market is so drastically different than anything else. We’re delivering a vertically-integrated system – from the satellite to the terminal and the access points on the aircraft – that is optimised to keep pace with the most powerful communications satellites in the world – ViaSat-2 and ViaSat-3,” said Buchman.
“As a result, our Gen-2 equipment extracts greater productivity, performance and higher throughput levels from the integrated system, and raises the standard for delivering best performing in-flight internet and streaming experiences at scale.”
The ViaSat-2 satellite, which will will extend the company’s Ka-band coverage over the Atlantic Ocean, plus add additional capacity over Canada and Central America, is due for launch in May.
The launch has been pushed back a few weeks due to industrial action at the Kourou launch site in French Guiana.
Local newspaper France-Guyane reported that local electricians, hospital employees, farmers and transportation workers — including the drivers that transport the Ariane 5 rockets — had been among those protesting against working and living conditions in the South American town.
But Buchman was positive about business in Kourou getting back to normal soon.
He said ViaSat-2 will double the throughput capacity of ViaSat-1, giving around 450 Gbps of combined capacity. Include the Ka-band Eutelsat KA-SAT over Europe and ViaSat will have access to more than 500Gbps of capacity, stretching from Los Angeles to Istanbul.
Buchman was also bullish about its inflight connectivity project with Qantas and NBN in Australia. Qantas recently postponed the launch of its in-flight Wi-Fi service because of “stability issues” and now expects the service to commence in the middle of the year.
Buchman said that any new system has teething problems and glitches that need to be worked through, and it is still in the test phase.
“We aim to hold a media flight with Qantas very soon and journalists will then be able to see just what the system can deliver,” he said. “We have been running stress tests on the system, running up to 250 connected devices at once, and it still works well.
“We are confident that it can deliver what we have promised.”
Looking further ahead, ViaSat says its future range of ViaSat-3 Ka-band satellites will revolutionise its offering around the globe.
ViaSat-3 will add a whole new dimension to ViaSat’s capacity, adding three terabits globally from late 2019/early 2020 after the first launch, with a second satellite launch shortly after, and a third after that.
The first two satellites will focus on the Americas and Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), respectively, with a third satellite system planned for the Asia Pacific region, completing ViaSat’s global service coverage.
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