ViaSat Carlsbad Employee Connects Exclusively with WildBlue for Three Months

Takes initiative to "walk the walk" using VPN into ViaSat corporate network

We’ve talked and written a lot about the significant increase in speed and performance we expect from our new high-capacity satellite system. One ViaSat employee believed in it enough to “go rogue” and use a version of the new service as his exclusive ViaSat network connection for three months.

Our Tom McCann took it upon himself to arrange a WildBlue installation outside his office, then switch his office connection to a VPN hookup via satellite to the ViaSat LAN. The connection used the new ViaSat SurfBeam® 2 terminal and a satellite feed that was boosted to 5 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up, along with a higher bandwidth allocation. (That’s still far less than the anticipated 12 Mbps connection speeds where ViaSat-1 service will be available.)

He set up his own remote LAN using a Cisco router connected to the SurfBeam 2 terminal. He then tunneled into the ViaSat network using a Cisco VPN client, just as if he was working remotely. Also included in the setup was ViaSat AcceleNet network optimization and acceleration software on his laptop. AcceleNet will be embedded in SurfBeam 2 modems for the new WildBlue services that will be available in January.

Then Tom did his usual work, using all the applications he normally would:

  • Microsoft Outlook email
  • Microsoft Office
  • Oracle
  • SharePoint
  • ViaSat Wiki
  • Common Internet File System access to files and network resources
  • VoIP

“Everything worked great, except printing,” said McCann. “That’s a very ‘chatty’ process. But if you were actually working in a remote location, you’d have your own local printer and it wouldn’t be an issue.”

One example he provided was his work on a 20 MB PowerPoint file. He was able to download the file, cut and paste two slides from another presentation into it, then load the file back up to SharePoint. Total time: two minutes. McCann then did a test over a long line DSL (768 kbps) connection that showed the same file took three minutes just for the first file download.

McCann also does a lot of web browsing during his typical day. He says most people discount the value of fast browsing in an enterprise environment, but he disagrees.

“Good web browsing is very important. You do more of it than you think for work purposes: researching, getting information on vendors, all kinds of things,” he said. “And it really sets the user’s perception of the whole online experience, even for enterprise.”

As part of his job, McCann has demonstrated this new breed of satellite broadband to a variety of government and commercial audiences. A few times he even told them he was showing them a cable broadband connection for comparison, when it was actually over satellite.

“When they saw how fast and responsive it was, I had a few people say, ‘That’s better than my cable service.’ Then I would tell them it was actually our new brand of satellite Internet.”

Tom’s experiment was a success. He was productive and satisfied using his VPN connection over the enhanced satellite broadband service. Even accommodating all the encryption, decryption, acceleration and deceleration involved in his simulated remote LAN setup.

“I had a lot of very time-sensitive work to get done during that time too,” said McCann. “I wasn’t going to do anything that could cost ViaSat or slow me down. I was confident it wouldn’t.”