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ViaSat-1, highest capacity satellite in the World, yet.

October 25, 2011
By Tan Ming Sin

22 October 2011 - ViaSat-1 (named after a communication-industry company, ViaSat) was successfully launched into space at our local time 2:48am Thursday. This super-satellite broadband service will be operating under WildBlue Communication. Service is expected to be available in 2012 after a period of testing. 

The ViaSat-1 is now the highest capacity satellite. Before this, it was the European Ka-Sat with the total throughput of 70 Gbps. 

WildBlue claims that ViaSat-1 has throughput capacity of 140 Gbps, 2Mbps uploads and 10Mbps downloads.  

Tom Moore, president and CEO of WildBlue, claims that their satellite will target the market of those who need a better connection. It contrasts with the Ka-Sat providing Internet services for estimated tens of millions of European homes in the “unserved” spot. ViaSat-1 at 115°W uses 72 beams to cover 75% of Continental United States, as well as the most populated areas of Alaska, Hawaii and Canada. 

"We've tended to focus on areas where there's not a huge amount of other alternatives, but increasingly we think that we'll be very, very compelling to what we consider the 'under-served' - not the unserved, the people that have no alternative, but the under-served markets. 

These are people who would pay maybe a little bit more for a higher speed and/or a higher quality of service," said Mr Moore. With the new high-speed connection, this raises another question on the overpriced Internet service. Mark Dankberg, the chief executive of Viasat, which built the super-satellite says that this will not happen. 

The explanation is that the overall costs of the new ViaSat-1 remain about the same as the earlier Ka-Sat. However, with the higher capacity, it will be able to lower the cost of every bit flowing through the satellite. To explain simply, WildBlue can put more subscribers on the satellite and lower the overall cost per subscriber for satellite broadband service.  

There is still no news on the price of packages using ViaSat-1 from WildBlue. You can however have a rough estimate based on their current packages available.  

However, there is a relatively downside to the super-satellite. WildBlue expects the delay for information to reach the satellite (also known as latency) to be 1 second slower than a fiber optic connection. This 1 second delay may seem short but the frustrating lag from online phone calls or video calls will make it noticeable. To top that, online gaming will drive you mad.  


A demonstration suggests the offered connection speed by ViaSat-1. This test was done using the previous satellite WildBlue-1. However, the previous satellite offers 1.5 Mbps download and 256 Kbps upload on their pro package.  

ViaSat-1 is without a doubt an improvement for satellite users living on rural areas with slow connectivity. We should also look forward to another improvement by Hughes Network Systems. Their new satellite, Jupiter with a total throughput of 100 Gbps expected to be launched coming next year. Also, other competitors are coming up with their own improved satellites as well.  

It is all great news for us with these launching of satellites. With the improvement in capacity and speed, we look forward to the day where every corner of the world will have a connection to the net. 


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