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

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in the hundreds of dollars per home. So that’s what the benefit is. The same thing is true of satellite TV. What makes satellite TV successful are those exact metrics.

X: How has the deployment of Exede Internet service been going?

MD: Our serving data says something like 40 percent of the new subscribers switched to satellite from some form of terrestrial broadband. Generally it was wireless 3G, 4G or DSL. So one of the points that we’re trying to establish is that people don’t really care what the technology is, they care about what the service quality is. And just as we said, speed is really an important ingredient in service quality.

X: I have received a couple of e-mail complaints from subscribers who have had problems getting satellite Internet service. Are these isolated complaints, or are you seeing significant issues in rolling out the WildBlue service?

MD: We’ve been pretty upfront that the demand for service exceeded our install capacity in a number of places, and we use third-party installers. For two or three years, the WildBlue install rate was fairly flat. They would do four or five thousand installs a month nationally. Well, we went from that to having four or five times that… There were just not enough installers to meet the demand. We ran up a pretty big backlog pretty fast.

That’s going to settle out. It’s improved a lot. The other factor is just the quality of the installs. I think that the installation has a very big impact on people’s perception of the service, and that’s true whether it’s from a cable company, telephone company, or satellite company. It’s one of the reasons that a lot of the cable companies have such poor service reputation. So what we believe is that, statistically, it’s relatively small numbers, but we’re also going to try to figure out who are the good installers. The first issue is can we meet the demand, and second issue is how well are we meeting the demand. Both of those things are things we’re working on.

X: Is there anything that I haven’t asked that is on your mind?

MD: The things I think are the most important are really the market-based things, about what people want in broadband and our ability to deliver those, and the changes in perceptions in the way that people rank this new satellite broadband services compared to other choices.

We’re also doing remote advanced news gathering, and that’s already got a really good initial response. With the Colorado wildfires, for instance, a number of networks were using Viasat-1 to do their live reporting, because they could get really high-speed, high-definition video from very remote places very conveniently.

People also are using Viasat-1 to broadcast music concerts, and other events live, remotely. So I think all those things are going to have a good impact.

I think all these things are going to help people rethink the role of satellite and broadband and communications, so I think it’s good.

 

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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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