ViaSat Plans to Boost Fast Growth with Second Internet Satellite

5/20/13Follow @bvbigelow

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suitable ViaSat partner than Space Systems Loral (SSL), which built the ViaSat-1 satellite.

ViaSat filed a patent infringement lawsuit against SSL, alleging that Loral copied features of ViaSat-1 in the design of a communications satellite for Hughes. The case is scheduled for a jury trial in federal court early next year.

While the patent litigation itself poses some significant uncertainty for ViaSat, Dankberg said the ViaSat-2 is based on fundamentally different technology. The company has declined to provide much detail about its technology, but analyst Chris Quilty of Raymond James speculated in a research note, “We suspect the company may be using ground-based beam forming (GBBF) technology to achieve dynamic capacity reallocation.”

Dankberg confirmed during the conference call that ViaSat-2’s bandwidth will be “dynamically configurable” across geographies and spot beams, satellite signals that are transmitted by a high-gain antenna to concentrate power in a limited geographic area on Earth.

Satellite-based Internet, Satellite Communications, ViaSat-2

Blue Shaded Area is Projected Coverage of ViaSat-2

In effect, the satellite will be able to adjust the focus of its high-capacity bandwidth to cover particular geographic areas as needed. The combination of geographic coverage and total capacity has never been done before, Dankberg said.

“The considerable operational flexibility will be really attractive for international markets,” Dankberg said. “We’re not going to go into detail on the technical approach. Other than that we’ll say this is not a steerable antenna spot beam that can only illuminate a relatively small portion of the footprint at any given point in time.”

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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