Viasat’s Business Jet Users Gear Up For Faster Connectivity Services
Oftentimes, Viasat is considered a Ka-band satellite player only; however, Viasat has a near-global Ku-band network that allows its customers to tap into coverage that spans more than 90% of the world’s most popular flight paths. This near-global network is primarily used by business aviation, government, maritime and some commercial air customers.
For the large cabin business jet market, Viasat announced, this week at the annual European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE) in Geneva, Switzerland, it will begin offering an updated in-flight connectivity service plan on its Ku-band network, as well as unveiled an advanced migration path to enable business jet customers to upgrade their current Ku-band connectivity service to the more advanced Ka-band service, when it becomes available next year.
James Person, director of Business Development and Strategy for Viasat’s Business Aviation division continued, “Eighty percent of business jets commute between the U.S. and Europe, and when you’re making a trip like this you want to be connected, you want to be productive, you want to be entertained.” As such, Viasat is doubling speeds on its Ku-band service plan – increasing speeds from 2 Megabits per second (Mbps) to 4Mbps. While today, the 2 Mbps service plan supports full internet streaming, web browsing, email and more, the new 4 Mbps plan will provide support for all of these services plus more, while increasing quality of service and enabling even more devices to simultaneously connect to the Viasat network.
Person said of the U.S. to Europe route, “Viasat has enjoyed delivering near-global aero connectivity services for years – to businesses, governments and most recently commercial airlines. In fact, we’ve been ensuring optimal user experiences for business passengers – over the most congested travel routes – for more than a decade.”
But the plan for Viasat business jet customers is to move them from Ku-band service plans to the Company’s faster Ka-band service plans. And on the horizon, with a June 1 launch date, is Viasat-2, the Company’s next-generation Ka-band satellite platform, which at launch will have more capacity than any other communications satellite. Once operational in 2018, Viasat will offer business aviation customers the best data plans in the industry, with peak rates of 16Mbps, and coverage that will span from the west coast of the U.S. all the way to the Middle East. These connections will be made possible by connecting passengers and their devices directly to the Viasat-2 Ka-band satellite network (over North America and the Atlantic Ocean), and then switching these passenger connections over to the European KA-SAT network, a high-capacity Ka-band satellite system part owned by Viasat through its European joint venture with Eutelsat.
The shipset that will enable these high-speed connections is Viasat’s Global Aero Terminal 5510 shipset (Ka-band antenna and modem), which has already successfully operated across Viasat’s Ka-band satellite system. Planned for certification later this year and operational in 2018, the Global Aero 5510 terminal is expected to give business aviation customers access to the fastest speeds in the industry – even in flight paths that are highly congested.
“It’s important to note not all Ka-band networks or services are the same,” Person said. “We’re at EBACE this week telling that story; showing why having the most capacity in your spacecraft allows for greater user experiences at-scale – even in capacity dense environments, where there are hundreds of planes with hundreds of people on hundreds of devices, tapping into one network at the same time. We are focused are bringing capacity, and lots of it, to the market. That’s what we’re good at, and that’s why, from a network maturity perspective, we got this game down.”