NBAA Convention News

ViaSat touts ‘low-cost’ broadband

 - October 1, 2008, 11:46 AM

ViaSat Mobile Broadband Services is at Booth No. 768 displaying what the company calls “the only FCC-approved Ku-band mobile broadband service in the market.” The Carlsbad, Calif.-based company said it can provide airborne Internet services at higher data speeds and for lower costs compared with “other mobile satellite services that bill themselves as broadband,” such as Inmarsat with its SwiftBroadband satellite data service for business jets.

ViaSat Ku-band services cover all of North America, the North Atlantic and Europe and–teamed with retail channel partners Arinc SkyLink and KVH Industries–the company is bringing airborne and maritime communications to more mobile users. ViaSat says the SkyLink global in-flight broadband service provides download rates as fast as three megabits per second (Mbps) and data transmission rates as high as 512 kilobits per second. The KVH Industries maritime miniVSAT link boasts download rates as fast as 2 Mbps and a 512 kbps data transmission rate.

A lower cost-per-bit is made possible by the ViaSat service’s greater system capacity, reducing transmission charges by a factor of five to 10 compared with alternative services, the company claims. SkyLink, for example, uses a relatively small antenna that meets the low-profile, light-weight and low-cost requirements of mobile services. ViaSat says its megabit speeds are comparable to those of terrestrial cable modem or DSL services as opposed to the few hundred kbps rates of competing satellite services. The company also claims that its service provides quicker response because of random access availability of the channel made possible by ViaSat’s ArcLight “intelligent spread spectrum” technology.

ViaSat says ArcLight has met the challenge of providing high data rates with small antennas by using technology that mimics a larger antenna aperture. The system coexists with other services using the same frequency bands, maintaining sufficient capacity for large numbers of network members. It eliminates blocked signals caused by line-of-sight obstructions, even helicopter blades, the company said. The patented paired-carrier multiple-access process produces major savings by enabling essentially cost-free return links using the same bandwidth as the broadcast signal to an aircraft, vessel or vehicle, ViaSat added.