Like a lot of companies that have changed the way the whole world works, ViaSat, the company behind Exede, was started on a shoestring. It all began with early brainstorming about an innovative satellite company … in a spare bedroom in 1986.
Led by Mark Dankberg and a group of ambitious engineers, ViaSat would grow to become a leading technology innovator for business, government and the U.S. military, focusing on communications via satellite. One of its largest customers was a Colorado company called WildBlue.
In 1999, a small group of communications experts based in Denver foresaw the need for satellite internet in the same way that companies had seen an opportunity for satellite TV back in the 1980s. They designed a satellite network created specifically for internet communications. For the first time the Ka-Band of the wireless spectrum was used. They named the company WildBlue.
WildBlue’s first satellite launched in 2004. The next year, the company began delivering internet services to people in the rural U.S. who had no access to faster forms of internet connectivity.
The original WildBlue service offered download speeds about 30x faster than dial-up service and was greeted with enthusiasm. It may be difficult to remember what the internet was like in 2005: There was no YouTube, no Twitter, no Netflix and no Hulu. Facebook was just a year old and was only used by a few college students. So WildBlue’s original download speeds — up to 1.5 Mbps — seemed lightning fast.
Over the next 5 years, WildBlue experienced record growth. It launched a second satellite and leased space on a third. But even that couldn’t keep up with the demand. In the most populous U.S. states, WildBlue’s service was “sold out” as its satellite beams quickly became full.
Over time, 1.5 Mbps didn’t seem all that fast anymore. WildBlue customers liked the company, its U.S.-based customer care department and its friendly service, but they wanted faster speeds similar to those offered by cable companies in the cities.
In January 2008, ViaSat announced it was building the world’s highest capacity communications satellite — one that would offer a whole new class of internet service with much faster speeds. It was a visionary project destined to revolutionize the satellite internet market.
ViaSat had almost everything it needed: world class technology, talented engineers and a revolutionary new satellite in the works. The only thing missing was the support structure needed for a residential internet service — capabilities that WildBlue already had. It was a natural fit. So in December 2009, ViaSat acquired WildBlue, its customers, satellites and operational expertise.
In October 2011, ViaSat successfully launched ViaSat-1 into orbit 22,300 miles over the equator in what’s called a “geosynchronous orbit.” This type of orbit is in just the right place to cover the same part of the earth as it rotates. ViaSat also announced a new name for the service: Exede. With download speeds up to 12 Mbps, proprietary acceleration software and an entirely new technology on the ground, it was a different experience from any satellite internet service anywhere.
Today, we’re already planning ViaSat-2, our next satellite set to launch in 2017 with yet another giant leap in technology and service levels. At the same time, we’re continuously looking at ways to improve service and speeds for our current customers. We remain dedicated to providing the best satellite communications technology, solutions and services in the world.