Despite the growth of fiber and mobile networks, satellite broadband is now more important than ever. Google and Facebook already plan to beam internet connectivity to remote parts of the globe and airlines are in the process of upgrading their equipment to provide faster WiFi aboard flights.
While there are roughly 400 commercial satellites orbiting the earth, output is limited. US communications firm ViaSat believes it can change that, so it's teamed up aerospace giant Boeing to launch three new satellites that will deliver twice the total combined network capacity of all the connected satellites already in space.
The two companies have already begun working on two of the three ViaSat-3 satellites, which will deliver more than 1 Terabit (1,000 Gbps) of capacity each. ViaSat will design and manufacture the payload and Boeing will be tasked with developing the "associated satellite bus platforms" ahead of a 2019 launch. The first two satellites cover the Americas and Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) and the third will serve Asia.
Once in orbit, the ViaSat-3 array will be capable of delivering 100 Mbps internet to residential properties and will offer gigabit speeds to commercial companies in the air and oceanic sectors. Most importantly, ViaSat-3 aims to provide affordable internet to millions of people, many of whom are out of the reach of traditional networks and currently don't have access to the internet.
ViaSat says it already has much of its infrastructure in place -- its first generation 140 gigabit satellite already serves 687,000 subscribers in the US -- giving it an edge over other companies and consortiums looking to connect the world from space. "The key technologies underlying ViaSat-3 are in hand today," says ViaSat CEO Mark Dankberg. "[It'll enable] us to move forward in building the first broadband platform to bring high-speed internet connectivity, including video streaming, to all."