It hasn’t taken long for ViaSat subsidiary and satellite broadband service provider WildBlue Communications to start leveraging the successful launch of its parent company’s ViaSat-1 broadband satellite, the highest capacity telecoms satellite in world history. WildBlue last week began offering 12 Mbps satellite broadband in Colorado for $50 month. A “soft launch” is expected in neighboring states of Nebraska and Wyoming in coming weeks, according to a Denver Post report.
With nationwide subscriber base of 400,000, WildBlue’s customers outside of Colorado currently pay $80 a month for 1.5 Mbps service, the Denver Post’s Andy Vuong notes. Thanks to the successful deployment of ViaSat-1, WildBlue expects to launch the new, faster service nationwide by the end of February.
WildBlue believes the new service will prove attractive to rural and underserved customers in the U.S., particularly those lacking faster broadband connections. “Historically, satellite has been for the unserved — you have no other technology, then satellite is for you,” said WildBlue chief executive Tom Moore. “We think this will transform that marketplace. There are probably somewhere between 10 and 20 million homes that are either unserved or underserved.”
The new WildBlue-ViaSat-1 service will be competitive with “fast as fiber” service offerings from the likes of CenturyLink and Comcast, according to Vuong’s report. Customers do need to pay for installation of a satellite dish, which can cost as much as $250, however. I suspect FTTH, and even DSL and cable modem based service providers will take issue with ViaSat’s “fast as fiber” marketing message.
ViaSat is looking to expand the reach of their satellite broadband offerings beyond rural broadband. JetBlue will be offering broadband services via ViaSat-1 on its U.S. flights. ViaSat is installing antennas on JetBlue aircraft and the service is expected to be up and running in the next 18 months. The Carlsbad, CA-based satellite telecommunications provider is also in the early stages of discussing installing a similar service for Continental Airlines, Moore told Vuong.
ViaSat-1 can serve as many as 1.5 million customers at the faster speeds. Moore told Vuong that WildBlue won’t charge based on speed, but rather on data consumption, along the lines for 4G service packages from cell phone providers, another potential competitive issue to be resolved in the marketplace.