ViaSat believes it will take “five to seven years” to stitch together enough regional Ka satellites to offer a global inflight connectivity solution, but says it also remains open to partnering with Inmarsat to augment its service with Global Xpress.
The company’s regional Ka service in the United States supports high-speed connectivity on JetBlue and United. It recently scored El Al as a customer, and as part of the arrangement, will buy air time from Eutelsat’s KA-SAT high-capacity Ka-band satellite that covers Europe.
Offering global service is “not a matter of if, but when”, ViaSat director Don Buchman told Runway Girl Network last week at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg.
Needless to say, the company is anxiously anticipating the launch of ViaSat-2, an ultra high capacity satellite that will enable the company to support connectivity over the North Atlantic, which is considered “the gold route” for airlines, notes Buchman, who also reveals that the firm is eyeing SpaceX for future launches.
ViaSat-2 will also enable ViaSat to gain a footprint on twin-aisle aircraft, but the company just might crack into the widebody market before the 2016 launch of ViaSat-2. Buchman says the company is “seeing a softening” in the market – i.e. greater interest – for a hybrid Ku-Ka connectivity offering.
In our interview, Buchman also revealed many other interesting things about ViaSat’s plans, including the fact that the company is not using General Dynamics for the radome that will sit atop El Al’s Boeing 737s and other aircraft types for which ViaSat will secure STC on its own. See the video interview below.