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ViaSat Moves Next Satellite Launch to First Quarter 2017; Unveils Plans for 100 Mbps Service by 2020

Randy Sukow / Feb 10, 2016

ViaSat Inc., provider of Exede satellite broadband service, announced yesterday that it has rescheduled the launch of its ViaSat-2 satellite from late 2016 to first quarter 2017. Originally ViaSat planned to use a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket to deliver the satellite, but due to delays in the SpaceX schedule, has decided to contract with Arianespace to avoid serious slippage in its launch schedule. ViaSat-2 will launch from Kourou, French Guiana, the same launch site of ViaSat’s earlier ViaSat-1 and WildBlue-1 satellites.

ViaSat says the new satellite will double the bandwidth of ViaSat-1 and will provide seven times the coverage, with a footprint over all of the continental United States and coverage over Atlantic air lanes to the UK. Those new capabilities will add value to Exede subscribers, many of which do not have access to full 12 Mbps service west of the Mississippi River. It will also provide relief in areas where capacity on ViaSat-1 spot beams is approaching the limit.

Exede subscribers will benefit even more with the launch of ViaSat-3, which Arianespace will launch at a target date of late 2019 or early 2020. Only a few details about ViaSat-3 were available before this week. ViaSat is now saying that ViaSat-3 actually will be a three-satellite platform with a total 1 terabyte per second capacity.

“The ViaSat-3 platform is the next big step for ViaSat to fulfill its ambition of delivering a global broadband network with enough capacity to deliver more consumer choice with an affordable, high-speed, high-quality Internet and video streaming service,” ViaSat said in a press release yesterday. “The first two satellites will deliver more than twice the total network capacity of the approximately 400 commercial communications satellites in space today - combined.” (Emphasis ViaSat’s.)

With the expanded bandwidth, ViaSat-3 will deliver 100 Mbps to the home and will support 4K video streaming. With a series of three satellites, ViaSat also will expand coverage to nearly a global reach, with service to South America, Europe, Africa and the Asia-Pacific region. In addition, ViaSat-3 satellites will be backward compatible to augment transmission speeds on ViaSat-2, the company said.

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