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Telecommuting Boost From Broadband Satellite

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ViaSat, just up the street from us here in Carlsbad, California, is gambling on the future of broadband satellite, hoping to attract rural customers with no access to high-speed Internet service. If you want to work at home from someplace out in the boonies that’s very good news.

Building its own satellite is a swing-for-the-fences strategy that could transform the company. ViaSat has invested $100 million in the satellite that’s being built for them by Space Systems/Loral in the San francisco Bay Area. It’s on schedule to launch in about 20 months.

ViaSat’s market is the millions of rural households outside the reach of cable or DSL. Current satellite-based Internet providers have less than 1 percent of the market share of total broadband subscribers in the United States.

Analysts estimate that 10 million to 15 million households in the United States don’t have access to broadband through cable or DSL. Existing satellite Internet providers combined have only 875,000 subscribers out of the 106 million households with broadband

The Obama administration definitely supports the idea. The economic stimulus package includes $7.2 billion to give all Americans high-speed Internet access – especially those in rural areas where cable or DSL isn’t available.

The monthly cost for satellite broadband will be about the same as cable, and there are upfront costs for the dish, but the stimulus package could help defray those costs.

ViaSat-1 will be a new generation of satellite with a tenfold increase in the broadband capacity compared with existing satellites, and thus faster service for customers. The satellite with have 100 gigabits per second total capacity or more.

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