Summary:

ViaSat-1 went up about 18 months ago, but the satellite broadband company is already planning its next-generation bird, ViaSat-2. The high-Earth orbiter will far exceed Via-Sat-1’s already impressive 140 Gbps of total capacity.

Boeing Ka_band_702HP ViaSat-2
photo: ViaSat

Satellite broadband provider ViaSat has selected Boeing to develop and build its new geostationary orbiter, a satellite that will put even the impressive might of its recently launched ViaSat-1 to shame. The two companies said they will jointly design and build the new satellite and are planning to launch it into high-Earth orbit in mid-2016.

ViaSat-1 has already won numerous praise as satellite marvel, boasting a total capacity of 140 Gbps, which it uses to provide its Exede broadband service in remote and rural areas in the U.S. as well as to supply internet connectivity to JetBlue airplanes. The new satellite, aptly named ViaSat-2, is expected to double ViaSat-1’s capacity and greatly expand the provider’s coverage in the U.S., Canada, the Caribbean and Central America (ViaSat-1’s beams today skip over large parts of the Rocky Mountains and Western Great Plains).

The satellite hasn’t been without controversy, though, as ViaSat is switching out suppliers. Space Systems/Loral built ViaSat-1, but the two became embroiled in litigation after ViaSat accused the aerospace company of absconding with its intellectual property when it built a competing satellite for Hughes Network Systems.

That satellite became EchoStar 17, doesn’t have quite the capacity of ViaSat-1, but Hughes is using it to go head to head with ViaSat in the rural broadband market. Its Gen4 service offers speeds of 10-15 Mbps to customers, while ViaSat’s Exede service clocks in at about 12 Mbps.

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