On April 30, Viasat finalized its acquisition of RigNet, Inc., a different type of company from Viasat and one we believe will help jump-start our service offerings in some entirely new industries.
Headquartered in Houston with operations that span the globe, RigNet is a managed communications services provider and advanced machine learning company that operates across a variety of industries: energy, maritime, government and mining, among others. RigNet services customers with a host of sophisticated telecommunications and networking solutions, such as machine learning analytics, cybersecurity and real-time monitoring apps.
Its core service, and the impetus for the company’s 1979 founding, is providing communications – today’s connectivity – to hard-to-reach sites. Imagine a drilling rig 250 miles off the coast of Texas that needs an internet connection — not only for its operations, but for the crew. While cable or fiber may not serve this kind of location, RigNet offers a number of options from satellite, microwave network, 4G/5G LTE and others to serve any location in the most remote regions of the planet.
For each case, RigNet assesses the needs of the customer and creates a package to connect their remote operations. RigNet then partners with a provider for telecommunications offerings that provides fast, secure sharing of critical real-time data, voice and video to remote sites all over the world.
In addition to managing these connections 24/7, RigNet provides solutions to support the customer’s employees. Far from home on an oil rig or a vessel at sea, crew members can stay in touch with family and friends via video calls and other communication avenues, as well as tap into entertainment options like streaming movies and music.
Beyond those core services, RigNet has expanded over the years to offer a full suite of complementary products. Those includes apps, cybersecurity and a sophisticated real-time operational technology called Intelie Live. All are designed to function over the top of the network — a method that conserves bandwidth while adding value and efficiency.
“Bandwidth is precious, and these applications sit on top of the network, so optimizing performance while minimizing latency is critical,” said Lee Ahlstrom, President of Viasat Energy Services. “These are best-in-class applications that are optimized to deliver value over some pretty harsh network conditions. What’s exciting to me is the potential to offer our customers more bandwidth and a much wider range of solutions as ViaSat-3 enters service.”
RigNet not only brings its services to existing sites, it integrates and deploys communications systems into capital construction projects. The company’s system integration team designs each project, which is then engineered, assembled and tested by RigNet personnel.
“RigNet services go far beyond those of traditional providers by including a suite of products and solutions focused on improving safety, minimizing risk, increasing efficiency and productivity,” Ahlstrom said.
All this makes RigNet and its customers a natural fit for Viasat’s high-capacity satellite network. With the experienced staff and global reach of RigNet, we’re poised to make it even easier for businesses in remote locations to get connected.
“RigNet will bring extensive sector expertise, an established customer base and a global communications delivery infrastructure to help further accelerate Viasat's ability to provide high-quality, ubiquitous, affordable broadband connectivity and communications to the hardest-to-reach locations around the globe,” said Rick Baldridge, Viasat President and CEO.
Since Viasat is committed to empowering people to do more, anywhere – in the air, on land and at sea – and RigNet has experience offering global network management, support and maintenance, it’s easy to see how RigNet’s business will complement Viasat’s service and technology in various ways.
As we move toward the launch of our global ViaSat-3 constellation, bringing RigNet on board now allows us to ramp up this part of our business. Added to RigNet’s existing global presence and expertise in service to these industries, we’re poised to reach an extraordinary number of users.
Along with the oil rig example above, here are some other potential use cases where Viasat can leverage the RigNet model to bring connectivity to places largely unserved before:
- A shipping vessel can rely on big data for powerful, intelligent machine-learning analytics to improve fleet performance, such as fuel consumption, and reduce operational risk.
- Containers on that same vessel can have connected sensors to monitor things like humidity or temperature.
- An energy company executive can leverage RigNet’s real-time monitoring applications with a geo-mapping interface to view remote sites, analyze performance metrics and equipment performance, allowing greater visibility and control to operations anywhere in the world.
“With the close of this transaction, we look forward to integrating RigNet and its global team into the Viasat family,” Baldridge said. “Their technology, culture and customer philosophy are a strong complement to Viasat. Together, we believe we can further expand Viasat’s portfolio diversification strategy and solve customers’ toughest communications challenges.”
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