Innovation in Ka-Band Services (2012)

KA-SAT and ViaSat-1

SSPI honors two for-profit companies and strategic partners for the development and launch of transformative high-throughput satellites that seek to provide broadband Internet access to homes and small offices at rates and speeds comparable to terrestrial alternatives. 

Eutelsat launched KA-SAT in December 2010 and the satellite entered commercial service on May 31, 2011, offering 70 Gbps of throughput via 82 spotbeams connected to a network of 10 gateway teleports across Europe. This represents a 7-times improvement over the capacity of the previous generation of Ka-band satellites. Frequencies are reused up to 20 times to enable the high capacity and drive down the cost per bit. Significant innovations include ViaSat’s new SurfBeam 2 ground infrastructure design, including gateways and subscriber terminals, a pioneering satellite design to maximize frequency reuse, and a new OSS system to manage millions of customers. With access to about 13 million homes, which currently have Internet access at less than 2 Mbps, KA-SAT may have a significant role in helping the European Union achieve its goal of total broadband coverage in 2013. 

October 2011 saw the launch of ViaSat-1, a new Ka-band satellite offering 140 Gbps of total throughput over the USA and representing another leap in space and ground technology. The record of innovation behind ViaSat-1 begins with the company itself. Since its founding in 1986, ViaSat has pioneered ground-based satellite technology for government and commercial customers. ViaSat-1 represented a high-stakes gamble by the firm to change the paradigm of broadband services delivered via satellite. Its design also introduced numerous innovations and refinements in Ka-band network design. Spotbeams are focused on the 75% of the US where most subscribers are located, and frequency reuse boosts total capacity by a factor of 18, while using alternating frequencies and polarization of adjacent beams to prevent interference. ViaSat's SurfBeam technology implements the company's advanced acceleration technology, which uses a variety of ever-evolving techniques and application-aware enhancements to reduce transmission requirements and improve the user experience. The Exede by ViaSat broadband services introduced in January 2012 promise to provide a 10x increase in download speeds and 3x increase in upload speeds compared with satellite alternatives and a truly terrestrial-like experience of the Web.

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