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SkyBOX: Breaking the Rural Bounds?
|17 января 2008|
From the earliest days of satellite broadband, when a gray DirecPC hulked beneath our desk emitting heat and blinking lights, up to the sleek 2007 modems from services like HughesNet and WildBlue, one mantra for the services has never changed.
Consumer satellite broadband is for rural customers only. It's designed to serve households beyond the cable/telco high-speed grids. If you live "out there," you're gonna love it.? (And we can testify to that.) But if you can get cable, or DSL or, even better, fiber to the home, well ....
So okay. We accepted that. Like an immutable law of nature: Terrestrial beats satellite when it comes to two-way services. And so it has been ... until, possibly, last week when ViaSat CEO Mark DANKBERG went public with plans for a new satellite broadband service with the capacity to stare down the terrestrial services.
“Day to day consumer internet interactions involving high-bandwidth activities like video and multimedia were not part of the plans when earlier satellite services were designed," Dankberg noted when announcing plans for the new service. "We are aiming to give consumers a vastly improved experience based on the most advanced technology on the market. These new capabilities are not only technologically very feasible, they’re also affordable."
The first satellite for the planned high-speed, high-capacity two-way sat service is expected to be launched by ViaSat partner Eutelsat in 2010. - ViaSat says it will put up its own ViaSat-1 satellite, to be built by Loral, a year later. Both groups say they'll employ ViaSat's existing Ka-Band SurfBeam networking system and a common wholesale business model. - Together, they say, they'll cover all of Europe as well as the U.S. and Canada. And the services? Ah, if bragging rights are to be taken as gospel, this new service could trump the capacity constraints beginning to plague ground-based competitors with offerings ranging from high-volume video downloads to full internet traffic.
Of course, bragging rights are not the same as gospel. And in our time watching the multiplatform world we've seen more than one would-be messiah end up face down in the mud. But the players ... ViaSat, Eutelsat et al ... are certainly no lightweights. Nor are they beginners in the introduction of new technologies. So we'll be watching with great interest to see if satellite broadband can really break those rural