Barrett Xplore to lease ViaSat-1 for satellite Internet

Barrett Xplore Inc. of Woodstock, N.B. announced Thursday it plans to lease the ViaSat-1 satellite when it’s launched next year and offer networking services for large companies.


“Satellite is about to get dramatically better in cost structure because we will have 20 times the capacity,” said John Maduri, Barrett Xplore’s chief executive officer.


He was comparing the company’s current capacity with the capacity it would have if it launches ViaSat next year and Hughes Network LLC launches its Jupiter satellite in 2012. Barrett Xplore inked a deal with Hughes in October agreeing to lease 10 Gbps from the Jupiter.


ViaSat-1 is under construction by New York-based Loral Space and Communications Inc. (NASDAQ: LORL) and is scheduled for launch in early 2011. It will have 15 Gigabits per second of throughput.
A spokesperson for Space Systems/Loral said the ViaSat-1 will be in a geosynchronous orbit, about 36,000 km above the earth’s surface at 115 degrees West Longitude.


Both the Loral ViaSat-1 and the Hughes Jupiter use Ka band communications.


Carlsbad, Calif.-based ViaSat Inc. (NASDAQ:VSAT), which has agreed to provide gateways and other infrastructure to Barrett Xplore, claims ViaSat-1 is designed to host more than a million subscribers, will have “more capacity than all current North American satellites combined” and has 10 times the throughput of any other Ka band satellite.


Brownlee Thomas, Montreal-based principal analyst for Forrester Research Inc., wrote in an e-mail that the key considerations will be the actual coverage of ViaSat-1, the cost of customers’ dishes, the bandwidth (both upstream and downstream) and the monthly charges for voice and data service plans.


“Voice is definitely an obvious application for this,” she wrote.


Barrett Xplore provides broadband Internet services to residential and small business customers in remote areas using both fixed wireless and satellite. Maduri said once ViaSat 1 is ready, the firm will aim its services at large enterprise customers.


“We’re literally about a year to a year and a half from when all Canadian will have access to cost effective high speed broadband offering,” Maduri said. “There is not a location we will not reach.”



Ottawa-based Telesat Holding Inc., which is part owned by Loral, will operate the satellite and manage its gateways. Telesat’s other main shareholder is the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, which along with Loral bought Telesat from Bell Canada Enterprises Inc. (TSE: BCE) in 2007.


Barrett Xplore already provides services using Telesat Canada’s Anik F2 satellite, which was launched in 2004.


Through its Xplornet brand, Barrett Xplore offers several Internet packages for residential and small business users. For example, the KaBang service, which costs $119.99 a month, has download speeds of 1.5 Mbps and upload speeds of 300 Kilobits per second (Kbps). The Elite Premium plan, which offers download rates of 5 Mbps, costs $299.99 a month. Activation fees are $99 for three-year contracts, $199 for two-year contracts and $399 for customers without contracts. This does not include the cost of equipment.


Competition is heating up for Ka band service in Canada. Barrett Xplore made its announcement the day after OmniGlobe Networks Inc. said it plans to buy, launch and operate the CANUK-1 satellite in late 2013.



OmniGlobe, which provides fixed wireless infrastructure for rural townships, has yet to announce a contractor to launch CANUK 1 but is already in the very small aperture terminal (VSAT) business.

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