[Satellite News 10-02-08] According to ViaSat Senior Vice President Tom Moore, if you combine all of the satellite broadband capacity in the United States today, the total will not add up to the broadband capacity his company will provide with its first satellite, ViaSat-1.
The satellite, ordered in conjunction with Eutelsat’s Ka-Sat spacecraft, is scheduled to be launched in 2011. “ViaSat-1 has roughly 100 gigabits of capacity and Ka-Sat has somewhere between 70 and 80 gigabits,” he said. “When you total the capacity of all the other broadband satellites serving the United States — WildBlue-1, Anik F2, the Spaceway satellite — being used for broadband plus all the Ku- and C-band satellites, they add up to less than the capacity of ViaSat 1. Ka-Sat has the same situation in Europe.”
While ViaSat plans to increase capacity in the United States ten-fold, the company sees a healthy opportunity for its planned service. “People are downloading movies and larger size files more frequently now and the trajectory is increasing. When someone downloads a movie off of the Internet today, they are consuming the same amount of data and bandwidth that a whole household consumed in a whole month three or four years ago — about a gigabyte of data,” he said. “We project that in the next three or four years, that consumption demand will triple. It is a robust market. To be relevant in a market like this, we have to deliver a service that is comparable to the demands of the customers. That is what ViaSat-1 and Ka-Sat are all about.”
Moore discussed ViaSat’s analysis of its potential subscriber base and their increasing appetite for bandwidth with Satellite News News Editor Jeffrey Hill.
Satellite Today: Is there is enough demand for broadband to fill up ViaSat-1Moore: There are two areas in which we analyzed and investigated the specific demand. The first area is the market itself. How many customers are there and where are they? The second area is looking at how customers are using broadband. We have to ask ourselves, ‘What is their appetite? Are they consuming more?’ When we multiply these answers together, we get an idea of what kind of capacity is necessary.
In the United States, there is a general belief that there are 15 million to 20 million homes with no other Internet alternatives other than dial-up or satellite broadband. At the end of this year, HughesNet and WildBlue together will have roughly 1 million broadband subscribers. WildBlue is selling out of their current capacity for Anik F1 and Anik F2 and as Hughes just added Spaceway 3, we feel it will fill up that capacity successfully in the next year or two. However, they still only have a small portion — about roughly 5 or 10 percent — of the market that is potentially out there.