Peering Over the Horizon, WildBlue Co-Founder Tom Moore Sees Opportunities Beyond Launch of ViaSat-1 Satellite

12/8/10Follow @bvbigelow

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its WildBlue-1 satellite and gained access rights to the Telesat Anik F2 satellite and established a dealer network to provide installation and customer service throughout the 48 contiguous United States. The company was able to provide 1.5 megabytes per second downstream speeds, which was equivalent to a T-1 line to the home, Moore says, noting that WildBlue “still has the same service profile today.”

But Moore says, “The world has changed dramatically since 2005-2006, with broadband speeds into the home doubling every three years… That’s really what ViaSat-1 is all about. It’s 20 times bigger that WildBlue-1. This is in some ways the next stop in an evolution of service.”

Moore says the goal remains the same today, “To offer a median broadband service for the 20 to 25 percent of the residential market that are the hardest to serve.” But combining WildBlue’s operational experience with ViaSat’s technology and capital resources has enabled the combined companies to get much closer to realizing Moore’s vision.

“WildBlue had a great history, but we were basically out of capacity, especially in the east half of the country,” Moore says. “We were not really able to capitalize on the next generation technologies.” On the other hand, Moore says, “ViaSat had less operating experience, but they’re able to bring this great technology innovation into play.”

The combination is “definitely a more vertically integrated company,” which has become necessary because the evolving technologies and scale of satellite-based Internet service requires a service provider to be involved in all operational and technological aspects, Moore says.

Beyond the launch of ViaSat-1, which is set for mid-May, Moore says ViaSat has established a partnership with Eutelsat, the French satellite operator, to provide Internet service throughout Europe—and WildBlue is helping with network management and support systems. ViaSat also has been working on a project to provide broadband capacity throughout the Middle East and parts of Africa.

“ViaSat brings some really interesting relationships in adjacent markets,” Moore says. “WildBlue has traditionally been consumer focused. ViaSat has mobility—there’s a memorandum of understanding with JetBlue to put ViaSat technology on 200 JetBlue aircraft—as well as government and military, and enterprise…We’re hopeful that there are other potential opportunities out there.”

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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