Viasat has begun “beta service” on the ViaSat-2 satellite and plans full commercial service to launch in February (2018), despite some antenna spot beams performing differently than during ground testing. Several key performance tests on the satellite and end-to-end network have been completed successfully, achieving downstream speeds of over 100 Mbps to production consumer terminals.

The ViaSat-2 satellite system is planned to significantly improve speeds, reduce costs and expand the footprint for broadband services across North America, Central America, the Caribbean, a portion of northern South America and the primary aeronautical and maritime routes across the Atlantic Ocean between North America and Europe.

ViaSat-2 coverage area.
ViaSat-2 coverage area. Source: Viasat

ViaSat-2 has a capacity of 300 Gbps and uses Ka-Band for the uplink and downlink to the subscriber: 500 MHz bandwidth at 28.35, 28.85 and 29.75 GHz for the uplink and 18.55, 19.05 and 19.95 GHz for the downlink. The satellite was manufactured by Boeing and launched on June 1, 2017.

Viasat said alpha testing demonstrated the ground network and other networking technologies are performing better than initially planned. The satellite will continue testing during the beta service period, after Boeing identified an in-orbit antenna issue causing some spot beams to perform differently than during ground testing. Boeing, with Viasat's support, is working to determine the root cause and identify corrective measures. From measured data and analysis of the in-orbit performance of the satellite, as well as the overall network, Viasat said it believes the differences will not impact satellite coverage, the planned services or expected financial performance of the system.

Mark Dankberg, chairman and CEO of Viasat, said, “Our advanced ground network, coupled with the flexibility features of the ViaSat-2 satellite, will help us manage the impact from the identified antenna issue, if needed. We look forward to launching commercial service next month and bringing new higher-speed fixed and mobile services to market."