Tuesday, December 13, 2011

12 Mbps Satellite Broadband at the Cost of Cable?

I've been covering access technologies and businesses for a long time, and the new ViaSat (WildBlue) satellite broadband service, promising up to 12 Mbps, and priced in line with cable modem service, in a huge advance for satellite delivery.

HughesNet plans a launch of a new satellite in 2012 that should perform along the same lines.

The big issue, some of us would think, is whether HughesNet will match WildBlue pricing.The big issue, or course, is that satellite transponder capacity, even on such advanced satellites, will come with limitations, in terms of how many customers each firm can serve.

By some estimates, if the typical bandwidth served up is "up to 12 Mbps," WildBlue might top out at about 1.5 million customers in total.For satellite customers, and potential users in isolated rural areas, this is a very big deal.

WildBlue, a wholly owned subsidiary of Carlsbad, Calif.-based ViaSat, now is offering 12-megabit-per-second broadband for $50 a month in Colorado.

Keep in mind, WildBlue's existing 400,000 nationwide subscribers are paying $80 a month for 1.5 Mbps service.

WildBlue's new service will soft launch in a few other states, including Wyoming and Nebraska, in the coming weeks and should be available nationwide by the end of February."Historically, satellite has been for the unserved," said WildBlue chief executive Tom Moore. "We think this will transform that marketplace."This is a disruption.

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