A fast Internet connection, everywhere
Superfast internet? Yes, please. In the UK and around the world there are plans for increasing the bandwidth of existing residential Internet connections to superfast speeds. BT is set to deploy 300-500 Mbps connections by 2020. Virgin Media already goes to 200Mbps and will likely increase as BT does. In the US, Google is testing out its 1 Gbps services in select cities. Verizon and Nokia are testing 5G mobile networks that offer 10 Gbps bandwidth (though that’s shared between many users).
Those speeds will be great if you live in an urban area or a selected section of the country. But what can rural users expect? Eventually, many of these services will be available at some level to most Brits but there will always be those remote locations where nothing is available. That won’t be the case for long.
100 Mpbs for everyone
ViaSat, a leading satellite communication company, is set to launch new satellites that promise “100+ Mbps Broadband to Any Home”. That’s according to their press release on PRNewswire.
Satellite Internet isn’t anything new, but each of these upcoming satellites offer more capacity than all existing commercial satellites combined. ViaSat claims the ViaSat-3 will provide more than 1 Tbps of network capacity. Just to be clear, that is T for Terabit, or 1,000 times more than a Gigabit. This doesn’t mean you can get that much capacity into your home though. It will be shared with everyone who uses that satellite, but the company are promising nothing less than 100 Mbps per household.
There will be three ViaSat-3 satellites in total, providing full global coverage. They will be rolled out in phases, beginning with two that cover the Americas, Europe, Middle East and Africa. A third satellite will be launched later and complete the coverage by adding Asia.
Streaming at home, on the sea and in the air
The company has a bold mission. They want to provide the connectivity for everyone, everywhere. They are already planning to provide connections to airplanes in flight which will include video streaming on commercial airlines. We can only speculate what that will cost consumers who want to watch that content. If you’ve flown lately, you’ll know the in-flight Wi-Fi is already expensive so perhaps the ViaSat network will help.
ViaSat will also offer a 1 Gbps service to marine locations to support commercial and research operations such as oil and gas platforms. I imagine that cruise lines will also tap into that network and provide real Internet connectivity no matter where the ship is travelling. We can hope it will be at a reasonable cost too!
Mark Dankberg is the chairman and CEO of ViaSat. In the press release he commented, “While there are multiple companies and consortia with ambitions to connect the world with telecom, satellite and space technologies, the key technologies underlying ViaSat-3 are in hand today, enabling us to move forward in building the first broadband platform to bring high-speed internet connectivity, including video streaming, to all”.
Underdeveloped areas of the world will have the ability to stream in 4k if the ViaSat network lives up to its promises. But the company hasn’t yet defined what it means when it says “affordable” residential services. Will those rural and potentially impoverished areas be able to pay for it? I hope that their global vision will extend to including a reasonable price tag for everyone as well.