ViaSat Enrolls 285K in Internet Satellite Service; CEO Talks Costs

As the “Satellite 2013” conference gets underway this week in Washington D.C., Carlsbad, CA-based ViaSat (NASDAQ: VSAT) says more than 285,000 subscribers have signed up for its satellite-based Internet service, which began just over a year ago.

In a statement yesterday, ViaSat chairman and CEO Mark Dankberg said, “Our results prove that driving down the cost of bandwidth can make satellite a better choice than slower terrestrial alternatives.”

ViaSat and its Colorado-based ViaSat Services group (previously known as WildBlue) say this month marks the first anniversary of the nationwide rollout of their Exede Internet service—which followed the successful launch of the ViaSat-1 satellite in October 2011. “The market success of ViaSat-1 strengthens our commitment to delivering a series of new satellites that push the boundaries of what’s possible in satellite broadband across a broad range of market opportunities,” Dankberg said.

ViaSat says Exede Internet subscribers receive download speeds of up to 12 megabits per second (Mbps). A report issued last month by the Federal Communications Commission found that ViaSat’s Internet service actually performed 140 percent better than 12 Mbps for 90 percent of the company’s subscribers during peak use periods.

Mark Dankberg

ViaSat claims that the quality of its Internet service has been so high that about 40 percent of Exede subscribers switched from slower DSL, cable, and wireless services. Dankberg touched on many of these points when he talked with me last year at ViaSat’s Carlsbad headquarters. What follows is an edited and condensed version of our conversation:

Xconomy: The last time we sat down like this, you gave me the analysis that went into the decision to launch the ViaSat-1 satellite. It had a lot to do with the tremendous growth of online video.

Mark Dankberg: Yeah, well, we’ve been doing data networking a long time. We knew back in 2000 that the key to high-performance satellite networking was in space. What was exciting about WildBlue at that time was that they came up with seven gigabits per second, which was a big step forward and it was at an affordable price. And we looked at that as… really the test case that was going to confirm this hypothesis, and it did.

What’s interesting is many other competitors just kind of went in other directions. They didn’t see the … Next Page »

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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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