ViaSat on New Trajectory Following Deal to Create Satellite-Based High-Speed Internet

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generating about 55 percent of ViaSat’s revenues. He also says, “Our fastest-growing businesses are selling our defense customers high-speed satellite connection equipment they can’t get on the defense side.”

It helped seal the WildBlue buyout when Tom Moore, WildBlue’s co-founder and longtime CEO, joined ViaSat shortly after ViaSat made its satellite announcement in 2008. “We’d been talking to him about the design of a 100 gigabit-per-second satellite,” Dankberg says. “The thing he was waiting for was whether we’d actually pull the trigger on it.”

Another factor that helped ViaSat seal the deal was that Colorado’s Liberty Media, which held a 37 percent stake in WildBlue through its Liberty Entertainment unit, wanted to spin off some of Liberty Entertainment’s assets. Liberty Media announced on Nov. 19 that it had completed its split with Liberty Entertainment, which was forming a new company through its combination with the DirecTV Group.

“You basically had to have the right sequence of events, and the timing was crucial,” Dankberg says. It all began, though, once “we decided that bandwidth was the key.”

The importance of bandwidth has become especially clear in the two years since ViaSat made its announcement, as digital media—especially digital video and television programming—moves increasingly online through websites like Hulu. Dankberg notes that several other satellite companies have endorsed ViaSat’s move by announcing their own plans to put high-speed Internet satellites into orbit.

As the lines between traditional TV broadcasts, cable TV, and Internet-based video blur even more, Dankberg says, “These are all really, really fascinating issues. The potential is really exciting.”

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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