Advanced Television

Viasat, Inmarsat targeting growth in IFC, D2C cellular

May 22, 2023

Mark Dankberg, chairman of Viasat, said that his company’s airline clients were buying into the concept of geostationary satellites and that the recently launched ViaSat-3 satellite would make a major difference to its airline broadband services.

Viasat serves 15 airlines including Delta Air Lines which represents major – and growing – demand on Viasat’s satellite capacity. Delta supplies free broadband on many of its flights.

Viasat’s Q4 revenues at its Commercial Networks division, which builds the hardware to outfit the aviation connectivity service, reported revenue of $153 million, up 28 per cent from the same period a year ago. Contracts booked during the period totalled $223 million, up an impressive 45 per cent, with an April 1st backlog totalling $770 million, up 22 per cent on the previous year.

Viasat said it had shipped more than 575 commercial in-flight-connectivity terminals during the year to more than 15 airlines. Viasat’s backlog as of April 1st was for 1,300 aircraft waiting to be installed with Viasat connectivity equipment. At the end of its Q4 it was serving 2,230 aircraft (1,830 a year ago).

The growing demand from its airline customers has helped compensate for the reduction in revenues in Viasat’s Satellite Services segment which includes broadband signals for private as well as business users. For the three months ending April 1st, Viasat’s Satellite Services business revenue was $296 million, down 3 per cent y-o-y and down 2 per cent from the company’s previous three-month period.

Viasat does not release the number of broadband connections to its satellites.

Dankberg said airlines are buying into the concept that in particular when the Viasat-3 network is operational (meaning three Viasat-3 craft), Viasat will be able to concentrate satellite capacity in high-demand regions when it’s needed, such as an airport at peak traffic time.

He added that including Inmarsat’s extensive L-band frequencies around the globe offered additional advantages to the current embryonic ‘direct-to-handset’ satellite services.

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