ViaSat hops into bed with European Space Agency in €68m deal

Cash stuffed into ground network for nippy broadband


Satellite outfit ViaSat is forming a €68m (£60m) public-private partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA), which among other things is intended to fund ground stations for home broadband speeds of 100Mbps.

The programme will focus on developing fixed and mobile terminals to allow its ViaSat-3 satellites to provide a ground-based network.

Each ViaSat-3 satellite offers over 1-Terabit per second (Tbps) of network capacity, potentially bringing speeds of 100Mbps to areas without fixed-line broadband.

The €68m project will be co-funded by the ESA with the support of three of its member states (Switzerland, the Netherlands and Romania), ViaSat and others within European industry.

This programme will focus on developing fixed and mobile user terminals, including the development of a fully electronic phased array for residential broadband, in-flight Wi-Fi and connected car applications.

It will also include ground segment equipment and gateways for the ViaSat-3 network, which include the Satellite Access Node (SAN) subsystems for a cloud-based ground network infrastructure.

ViaSat recently said it will take legal action against Ofcom over its decision to grant its British rival Inmarsat permission to operate an in-flight broadband network.

Magali Vaissiere, ESA director of telecommunications and integrated applications, said: "The PPP with ViaSat will bring ESA and industry together to quickly develop broadband products that will serve the needs of millions of consumers across Europe who are currently without adequate internet service.

"We believe this is a significant industrial opportunity that will keep Europe at the forefront of satellite and broadband technology development, giving Europe a leading position on the deployment of a next-generation broadband system with advanced ground networks and consumer equipment."

ViaSat managing director Stefano Vaccaro said the support from ESA would allow it to further invest in research and development programs "that will focus on forward-looking broadband technologies".

Products under the PPP are expected to be available in 2019. ®

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