EBACE Convention News

ViaSat Claims Fastest In-flight Internet

 - May 15, 2012, 6:15 PM

ViaSat (Stand 838) has said its Yonder Internet service is the fastest available for in-flight communications, with an almost global coverage. Those regions still missing are to be added by 2014, according to the U.S. company.

Don Buchman, ViaSat’s director for mobile broadband systems, told AIN that so far the system has been certified for Bombardier Global series and Challenger 604; Cessna Citation X; Gulfstream large-cabin; and Boeing BBJs. Development is under way for the Challenger 605, the Global 7000/8000 and the Gulfstream G650. He said the company’s next target business-jet manufacturers are Dassault Falcon and Embraer, while it is also considering bizliners such as Airbus A340s and Boeing 747s.

Today, some 200 civil business jets are flying with Yonder, in addition to 200 government jets. The current growth pace is close to six installations per month, Buchman said. OEMs and MRO service providers actually perform the installation work.

Yonder’s typical data rates are between one and two megabits per second. The service uses geosynchronized satellites in the Ku-band from several providers, such as Eutelsat.

The current coverage gaps that will be filled within two years, Buchman said, will start with China and Russia and continue with Canada and small parts of Africa and Europe. Southern oceans won’t be covered, apart from around Australia and New Zealand. “There is not a lot of demand for southern oceans,” said Buchman, who added that the Poles would not be covered.

One feature worth noting is the charging structure. Yonder sells for a monthly fee in the $6,000 to $8,000 bracket, with the precise amount depending on the length of time for which the customer subscribes). The fee includes an unlimited amount of data. Some applications, such as watching a movie via video streaming are banned, but Buchman said Yonder is fine for watching short videos.

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 between 50 and 100 aircraft in one beam region; ViaSat’s coverage uses a 15-beam structure.

Buchman said he hopes that in five to 10 years enough Ka-band satellites will have been launched (his company has already launched some) to offer higher speeds on a global basis. This could be up to 12 mbps. He added that within three years improvements in the available Ku-band satellites and ViaSat’s ground infrastructure should allow an increase to 4 mbps.

Installation costs are between $400,000 and $700,000, Buchman said, depending on the servers, routers and so forth that the customer chooses to integrate. The basic VMT-1500 equipment for reception just weighs 32 pounds.