21 Jan 2017

Watch This Space: ViaSat and Boeing Discuss Upcoming ViaSat-2 Satellite Launch

ViaSat’s newest Ka-band satellite will soon be on its way from the Boeing Satellite Development Center in El Segundo, California, to the Arianespace launch pad in French Guiana. ViaSat-2 promises to bring new opportunities for in-flight connectivity, with twice the capacity of ViaSat-1, which itself had 10 times the capacity of any previous Ka-band bird.

APEX Media was recently invited to see ViaSat-2 before it heads to space. Boeing’s El Segundo facility has a rich history of building space vehicles, starting in the early 1960s with Syncom, the world’s first geo-stationary communications satellite. During our tour, we spoke with Keven Lippert, ViaSat’s executive vice-president of Corporate Development, and Mark Spiwak, president of Boeing Satellite Systems International.

What will ViaSat-2 bring to the connectivity market, and to the passenger experience?

Lippert: It’s going to bring better service to the passengers, better pricing to the airlines and better coverage. With ViaSat-2, we’re expanding the footprint so that we’ll have North Atlantic coverage, which is important, given the number of routes both for commercial airlines and government users that are going between North America and Europe. ViaSat-2 will also cover the Caribbean, with coverage into Central America, as well as starting our expansion down to South America.

How does ViaSat’s relationship with France-based Eutelsat enhance the service?

Lippert: Passengers will have continuous coverage between North America and Europe. There will be handoffs between satellites, but it’ll be seamless. Even though it’s a Eutelsat satellite, they’re our partner, and it’s essentially the same operational system.

It seems that in-flight connectivity is reaching a “tipping point” in capability. What has driven the recent and upcoming improvements in service?

Spiwak: There have been advancements in satellite technology, advancements in your personal device’s technology and advancements in the antennas that go on the aircraft.

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Source : ©Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX)

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