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DOCSIS Gains Stature As ViaSat Platform

By | November 8, 2004

      There have been a number of efforts undertaken to provide satellite broadband for the masses. However, many of them have fallen by the wayside due to the high capital cost of building the system and operating cost-effectively in the allocated bandwidth. Those costs have been too high to make an effective business model. Companies that have learned that painful lesson include Teledesic, Astrolink and Skybridge.

      One company that is using technology to find its niche it the financially hazardous satellite broadband arena is Carlsbad, Calif.-based ViaSat [VSAT]. ViaSat reportedly is the only terminal manufacturer that provides its customers with a choice of satellite broadband open standard networks. The company’s products are based on both the DOCSIS and DVB-RCS specifications. Thus far, more than 100,000 DOCSIS terminals are in backlog, and more than 25,000 of its DVB-RCS-ready LinkStar terminals are installed worldwide.

      ViaSat, a provider of satellite and wireless products, aims to enable “fast, secure, and efficient communications to any location worldwide.” A key to the company’s growth and stability has been its flexibility in serving both commercial and military markets.

      To that end, its use of DOCSIS leverages an existing standard already used by millions of cable-modem subscribers. As a result, economies of scale have been achieved with the use of DOCSIS as an open standard. Chipsets, hub equipment, the transmission specification, network control, and service-provider back office and support systems are already created, refined and available at low cost.

      Jorge Vespoli, ViaSat’s vice president of worldwide sales & marketing, said DOCSIS is “cheaper and better” than other technologies.

      “The single biggest cost of delivering a satellite network today is the capacity,” Vespoli said during an interview. “The adaptive coding and modulation technique, part of the DOCSIS product, enable customers to significantly reduce the need for that capacity.”

      ViaSat’s technology adapts the DOCSIS standard to the satellite world and attempts to provide a more efficient approach to providing service than exists from other companies that build a product and then try to develop a standard around it. Through much more efficient use of Ku-band, or using the new Ka-band spot beam satellites in the case of the Anik F2 satellite used by WildBlue, DOCSIS creates a system where the costs for the service provider are comparatively low for terminals and equipment.

      (Jorge Vespoli, ViaSat, 678/924-2888)

      ViaSat At A Glance

      Headquarters: ViaSat Inc., 6155 El Camino Real, Carlsbad, CA 92009

      Founded: 1986

      Web site:

      Contact: Bruce Rowe, director, public relations, 760/476-2505,

      Vital Statistics: CEO Mark Dank-berg was named 2003 “Satellite Executive of the Year” by Via Satellite magazine. The company itself was honored with the Hannover Fairs ISCe2004 “Satellite Industry Award for Innovation and Tech-nology.” ViaSat employs more than 950 people.

      Strategic Focus: ViaSat focuses on technological innovation to enables its customers to expand the reach of their networks to any location by satellite in an affordable, cost- effective way. The networks include broadband to enterprises (LinkStar, Sky-linx), consumers (SurfBeam), aircraft (Connexion and SKYLink), and ground mobile (LINKWAY, StarWire) for both commercial and military applications. The company also is aiding the military’s shift to network-centric architecture.

      Source: ViaSat Inc.

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