EBACE: Viasat keen to promote 16Mbps Ka-band solutions

Jerry Goodwin, EVP Network Services Portfolio, Viasat.
Jerry Goodwin, EVP Network Services Portfolio, Viasat.

Viasat is bullish about its inflight connectivity offerings for the business aviation market. On the eve of the show the company announced that Embraer had selected its high-speed, high-capacity Ka-band connectivity solution for its Legacy 450 and Legacy 500 executive jets.

Jerry Goodwin, EVP Network Services Portfolio, Viasat, said it was building on the success it has achieved with its Ka-band connectivity product line for commercial airlines.

“This is our opportunity to bring business aviation customers onto our new satellites,” Goodwin said.

“Why has it taken this long? For business jets the smaller terminals [antennas] are challenging and there has been a long development cycle to get to this point.

“And the ViaSat-2 satellite is now coming online, which is expanding our capacity and footprint over the Americas and the Caribbean.”

Goodwin said Viasat Ka-band brings a “step up” in terms of the service it provides. He said its new terminals are forward and backward compatible, so futureproofed, both for Viasat-2 and the future Viasat-3 satellites.

Viasat was also demonstrating its dual Ku-Ka capability, complete with tail-mounted dual antennas for business aircraft.

“There has been a lot of interest in our dual-band solution. When we announced it people were like, wow this is fantastic,” Goodwin said. “Being able to offer both Ku and Ka on one aircraft gives redundancy.

Viasat dual Ku- and Ka-band tail-mount antennas for business aircraft.
Viasat dual Ku- and Ka-band tail-mount antennas for business aircraft.

“We have a big base of Ku-band users and a lot of them have the capability of having the dual Ku-Ka dishes in the aircraft’s tail. They never want their CEO to be without coverage, so having both capabilities is essential to a lot of business aircraft owners.

“Current customers buying new aircraft are saying they want dual Ku and Ka-band capabilities and we are the only company that can offer that.”

Viasat says the dual-band service provides up to 16Mbps to the aircraft while on the Ka-band network and up to 6Mbps on Ku. Its intelligent system will automatically default to the Ka-band coverage and leverage the Ku-band connectivity if outside of the Ka footprint.

The system also supports high-definition live TV streaming to both cabin monitors and passengers’ devices. The other good news is that streaming TV doesn’t eat into the monthly data allowance as customers pay an additional flat fee for the TV service.

“Plus they don’t have to fit an additional antenna as it is delivered over the Ka-band terminal,” Goodwin said.

Three dual band packages are available offering 40, 60 and 100Gb per month. Viasat claims the 100Gb package should be enough to send 1,000,000 emails or hold a Skype group video with five people for about 48 hours.

The 40Gb dual-band Ku-Ka data plan, offering up to 16Mbps to the aircraft, will cost $8,995 a month.

“Part of the Viasat plan is to constantly improve our service. That’s what you expect at home and we build an expectation in the market that your airborne service will also continue to get better,” Goodwin concluded.

The dual-band Viasat solution should be available for mid-size cabin business aircraft by the second quarter of 2019.

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