This summer Carlsbad, California-based ViaSat plans to add two premium classes to its Yonder high-speed Internet satellite telecom service, specifically to cater for the needs of business aviation. The new services–Yonder Premium and Yonder VIP–provide higher data rates, new quality of service assurances and enhanced network operations, as well as field engineering customer support. The higher levels of service, along with the rollout of a 60-percent increase in capacity for the worldwide network, will deliver what ViaSat describes as an improved customer experience for high-bandwidth-consuming applications such as multimedia streaming and video teleconferencing.
Three distinct service levels with monthly subscription plans designed for predictable flight department budgeting include Yonder Internet for web browsing, e-mail, VoIP, and office applications; Yonder Premium for multimedia streaming and video teleconferencing, in addition to web browsing and office-in-the sky applications; and Yonder VIP, designed to support a high number of Internet connections and simultaneous multimedia streaming sessions or video teleconferences for transport-category aircraft.
“After years of experience in providing satellite service to general aviation and government aircraft, we recognize the need to expand our services,” said Paul Baca, v-p and general manager of ViaSat Global Mobile Broadband. “We’re keeping pace with the proliferation of always-connected devices now making their way onboard. These new Yonder services are one example of our commitment to giving customers the flexibility to choose systems and services that fit a variety of customer communication profiles.”
Expanded ViaSat business aviation terminal options, including the VMT-1524 shipset for transport-category aircraft, enable the Yonder VIP service on aircraft. The VMT-1524 uses a fuselage-mounted antenna that can deliver higher speed data; while the VMT-1500 shipset already installed on more than 200 large-cabin business aircraft can also deliver Yonder and Yonder Premium services.
Operating at data transfer speeds of between 1 and 2 mbps, the Yonder system provides seamless transitions through coverage areas supported by a network operations center that manages and combines the coverage provided by each satellite in the ViaSat network. The company expects that data transfer rates of up to 4 mbps for Yonder VIP users will become available when it begins service this year.
According to ViaSat, Yonder’s advantages include constant availability, whether on the ground or in flight. For a fixed monthly fee in the $6,000 to $8,000 range, passengers can use laptops, smartphones, tablets and PDAs with unlimited web surfing, real-time e-mail with attachments, Internet streaming video and transfer of large files.
ViaSat controls the data rate during peak demand times to avoid one aircraft leaving too small a data rate for the others. The system can peak at somewhere between 50 and 100 aircraft in a single beam region, and ViaSat’s coverage uses a 15-beam structure. Separately, sources within ViaSat say that use by commercial airlines of its Exede Internet consumer broadband service will likely extend to business aviation.
At the Aircraft Interiors Expo 2013 in Hamburg last month, 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 prior to ViaSat 1. ViaSat claims a data transfer rate for Exede of 12 mbps “or more” for commercial airliners. Working with partner LiveTV, the company has signed contracts to install its in-flight system on 370 aircraft operated by JetBlue and another unidentified commercial carrier. It plans to start installations later this year.
The company’s interest in transport-class airplanes recently expanded to include a collaboration with L-3 Platform Integration Division (PID) on a complete broadband satellite communication system for VVIP customers. Plans call for the system to combine an airborne shipset and global broadband network services from ViaSat with L-3 PID completion services, including system integration, design, engineering, installation, in-cabin passenger networking and certification.