WildBlue Communications, a Colorado-based, satellite broadband Internet provider, is again pitching “next generation” satellite capabilities on Capitol Hill this week. WildBlue says their new satellite could deliver 10 times the speed. They want stimulus funds to develop it.
But a new satellite – using the Viasat-1 platform – is not “shovel ready”. Therefore, the company is afraid it could miss out on stimulus grants. ViaSat-1 hopes to launch in early 2011, after the bulk of the broadband investment would be made. ViaSat-1 is a collaborative effort between Loral, the satellite builder, Canada’s Telesat, and Eutelsat.
WildBlue currently delivers satellite internet access to nearly 400,000 customers. It is accessible to virtually every home and small business in the contiguous U.S., including the estimated 20-25 million homes and small offices that are not wired for terrestrial (DSL or cable modem) service.
ViaSat-1 is expected to have more capacity than the combination of all other satellites in operation over the United States, providing 2-10 Mbps download speeds at retail prices competitive with terrestrial services, says the company.
Some $6.39 billion in the stimulus bill will be targeted for broadband and administered by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service.
- The NTIA will be responsible for $3.9 billion in grants. Recipients will have to underwrite up 20% of the proposed project’s cost, though hardship waivers will be available. The assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information and the Federal Communications Commission will establish the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program and ensure that it doesn’t conflict with other federal broadband initiatives (pdf). It is anticipated that there will be at least one grant in every state. Those funds will go through each governor’s office. In Oregon, for example, The Oregon Way Advisory Group – will advise and assist state agencies.
- The Rural Utilities Service will dole out $2.5 billion in grants, loans and loan guarantees. The USDA’s $2.5 billion for broadband spending requires that at least 75 percent of any area must lack sufficient broadband service “to facilitate rural economic development as determined by the secretary of Agriculture.” The Congressional Budget Office estimates that USDA will have $63 million to spend in fiscal 2009 and $350 million in fiscal 2010. Spending will peak at $587 million in fiscal 2011 and decrease in the following years until finishing at $125 million in fiscal 2015.
WildBlue would like a piece of that action.
“Satellite Broadband is an essential ingredient in our nation’s plan to bring broadband Internet access to every American,” said Dave Leonard, CEO of WildBlue. “No other technology can economically reach the most remote areas of our country. We go where DSL, cable and wireless will never be available. Our demonstration on Capitol Hill showcases how Satellite Broadband is currently meeting the needs of the country’s most underserved audience, and how tomorrow’s technology improves this vital service by an order of magnitude.”
AlphaStar, a hybrid satellite/terrestrial broadband wireless service, is promoting its system as a solution to rural broadband delivery. AlphaStar@Home does not go directly to your home via satellite, such as 2-way satellite providers Spaceway and Wild Blue. Instead, AlphaStar uses a hybrid delivery method with terrestrial wireless for last mile delivery, mixing satellite backbones with WiMAX for terrestrial connections.
Meanwhile, Eutelsat’s “Tooway” broadband, recently launched in the UK, offers up to 2Mbit/s, via an existing satellite. It’s currently available using Ka-band capacity on Eutelsat’s HOT BIRD™ 6 satellite. Eutelsat plans to launch a satellite, similar to ViaSat, next year. It says will offer the entire UK up to 10Mbit/s broadband.
Eutelsat’s new KASAT (pdf), launching in the third quarter of 2010, will use the Ka band and offer 10 Mbps, using over 80 spotbeams. Eutelsat will locate KA-SAT at 13 degrees East where it will join three large HOT BIRD Kuband broadcasting satellites that form the world’s leading video neighbourhood.
Connected Nation, a broadband mapping organization spun off from Connect Kentucky, stands to grab a huge chunk of the government’s new $300 million budget set aside for broadband mapping. But Public Knowledge, a consumer advocate, says the group is little more than a front organization for giant carriers like AT&T and Verizon — tasked with over-inflating broadband penetration numbers to make carriers look good and keep government regulation at bay, according to Broadband Reports.
Today, June 8, is the FCC’s deadline for taking comments on a national broadband strategy. There’ll be another round giving service providers and others the chance to give their input on issues including net neutrality and network management. All that feedback will help the FCC shape a policy for promoting ubiquitous broadband in the United States.
Related DailyWireless Space and Satellite News includes; WiMAX and/or Satellite, HughesNet’s Spaceway 3 Now Available, Hughes Launches Switchboard in the Sky, HughesNet & Broadband Corporation, Spot Beam Sats Multiply, Clearwire & SatTV Do a Deal, Sprint Beams Up with MSV, TerreStar: I-HSPA for Satphones, Satphones: Merger Ahead?, Inmarsat + SkyTerra = Spectrum Sharing, Mobile Satellite on the Move, TerreStar Gets a Slot, Satellite Repeaters – Grounded In Reality?, WildBlue Partners with DirecTV & Echostar, John Malone in Space, TerreStar Gets a Slot, BSkyB + Google, SkyNet Satellite Hacked?, Lockheed CEO: Space is Broken, MSS: AWS Alternative?, WildBlue: AT&T’s DeathStar?