ViaSat's powerful new internet satellite blasts into space

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Tuesday, June 6, 2017
ViaSat's powerful new internet satellite blasts into space

by Mike Freeman

ViaSat’s latest internet satellite blasted into space Thursday afternoon, furthering the Carlsbad company’s strategy of delivering high-speed broadband to more homes and commercial airlines for in-flight Wi-Fi.

ViaSat-2, which at 14,149 pounds is the size of four sedans, launched from Guiana Space Center on an Ariane 5 rocket. It was supposed to enter orbit on April 25, but civil unrest in French Guiana delayed blast off until Thursday.

With more than 300 gigabits per second of maximum capacity, ViaSat-2 has more than twice the bandwidth of the company’s first internet satellite, ViaSat-1, launched six years ago. It’s the highest capacity communications satellite ever launched, according to the company.

ViaSat-2 represents the latest test to the company’s strategy of engineering satellites to maximize speed and low-cost bandwidth in hopes of mitigating concerns over latency — the delays as signals travel from space to Earth that can bog down some real-time applications such as online gaming.

“With ViaSat-2, we set out to solve this problem of how do we get capacity and coverage,” said Chief Operating Officer Rick Baldridge. “We were able to do that. ViaSat-2 has over seven times the coverage of ViaSat-1.”

A live stream of the ViaSat-2 launch was shown at the company's Carlsbad headquarters.

ViaSat said the new $625 million satellite, which was built by Boeing Satellite Systems in El Segundo, will allow it to offer residential satellite internet plans with up to 100 megabits per second speeds and virtually unlimited data use — challenging cable and telephone line internet in some regions.

That beats ViaSat’s current baseline plans, which start at 12 megabits per second but have usage caps around 10 gigabits per month.