New terabit satellites to be more powerful than 400 now in space combined

11 Feb 2016

Rocket launch image via ViaSat

Three new satellites in development at ViaSat will aim to usher in a new age of data transfer power with speeds of up to 1Tbps, faster than the 400 communication satellites currently in space combined.

Called ViaSat-3, the satellites will be a joint effort between ViaSat and Boeing to develop the next generation of satellites to handle the billions of devices that will be connected online in the years to come as part of the internet of things (IoT), but also to give better internet access to remote areas of the globe.

These efforts have already begun among some of the biggest names in tech and aerospace whose aims are to connect the globe, including Facebook, Google and SpaceX.

According to the company’s release, two of the three satellites to be included with ViaSat-3 are already under construction, with each of the satellites being able to transmit 1Tbps in speed, which combined will be able to churn more than twice the amount of data than the current 400 communication satellites in orbit.

As part of the arrangement, ViaSat is constructing the satellites themselves, while Boeing will be responsible for getting that payload into space, with ViaSat aiming to have them launched into orbit by 2019.

Up to 100Mbps in the home

In terms of coverage, ViaSat expects the three to provide coverage for a large proportion of the globe, with two of the three to cover the EMEA region, with the remaining satellite to cover the extent of Asia.

Unfortunately for those of you at home expecting to get direct fibre speeds, it’s expected that, once operational, households will be able to obtain speeds of up to 100Mbps, while commercial operations will get somewhere in the region of 1Gbps.

ViaSat’s chairperson and CEO, Mark Danberg, said of the satellites: “The innovations in the ViaSat-3 system do what until now has been impossible in the telecommunications industry – combining enormous network capacity with global coverage, and dynamic flexibility to allocate resources according to geographic demand.

“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.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic