ViaSat’s Exede Internet consumer broadband service is expanding to the airline sector, and sources at the Carlsbad, Calif.-based company say it is considering providing Exede to business aviation, though no plans have been announced yet.
At AIX, ViaSat announced it had set Guinness world records for the highest-capacity satellite, allowing 100 times the capacity of a typical Ku-band satellite and 10 times the throughput of any Ka-band satellite launched before ViaSat-1.
ViaSat claims a data transfer rate for Exede of 12 Mbps “or more” for airliners, with the major differentiator being the Ka-band satellite system. The company is already under contract to install its in-flight system, working with partner LiveTV, in 370 aircraft operated by JetBlue and another unidentified commercial carrier. Installations are scheduled to begin later this year.
The current ViaSat connectivity package available for business aircraft is Yonder Internet, with global coverage and data transfer speeds between 1 and 2 Mbps. The network operations center manages and combines the coverage provided by each satellite in the ViaSat network so that transitions through coverage areas are seamless. The company expects that within three years, improvements in the available Ku-band satellites and ViaSat’s ground infrastructure should allow an increase in data transfer of up to 4 Mbps for Yonder users.
Among what ViaSat claims are the advantages of Yonder is that the service is “always on” and available, while idling on the ground or in flight, with no special log-in required to connect.
For a fixed monthly fee in the $6,000 to $8,000 range, passengers may use laptops, smartphones, tablets and PDAs with unlimited Web surfing, real-time e-mail with attachments, Internet streaming video and transfer of large files.
Average users total about two gigabits per month. ViaSat controls the data rate during peak demand times to avoid one aircraft leaving too small a data rate for the others. A peak can be reached somewhere when between 50 and 100 aircraft are using the system in one beam region; ViaSat’s coverage uses a 15-beam structure.