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The Exede story: satellite internet from space

Exede satellite Internet is the culmination of more than a decade of planning and innovation. Here’s our story.

Part One: ViaSat

ViaSat Residential LogoIn 1986, a group of ambitious engineers led by Mark Dankberg founded ViaSat, a new startup company, in his garage in San Diego. ViaSat would grow to become a leading technology innovator for business, government and the U.S. military, focusing on communications via satellite. As ideas and plans for delivering the Internet via satellite began to coalesce in the late 1990s, ViaSat played a key role in supplying the technology and systems to make these ideas into reality. One of its largest customers was a U.S. company called WildBlue.


Part Two: WildBlue

Wildblue LogoWildBlue started as a company in 1999 with a small group of communications experts based in Denver. They foresaw the need for satellite Internet services 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 using the Ka-Band of the wireless spectrum to deliver internet service.

Early on, ViaSat became WildBlue’s technology supplier for its ground network. It was a partnership that would last many years, ultimately resulting in WildBlue becoming part of ViaSat a decade later.

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. Our original service offered up to 1.5 Mbps 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. We received glowing reviews, and customers were very happy with our service.

Over the next 5 years, WildBlue experienced record growth. We launched a second satellite and leased space on a third satellite, but the company couldn’t keep up with the demand. In the most populous U.S. states, our service was “sold out” as our satellite’s beams quickly became full.

Over time, 1.5 Mbps didn’t seem all that fast anymore.  Our customers told us they liked our company, our U.S.-based customer care department and our friendly service, but they needed faster service – more like speeds offered by cable companies in the cities.


Part Three: ViaSat builds the world’s most powerful communications satellite and acquires WildBlue.

In the meantime, ViaSat had embarked on an ambitious satellite Internet project of its own. In January 2008, the company announced that it was building the world’s highest capacity communications satellite, which would launch in 2011 and offer a whole new class of Internet service with much faster speeds. It was a visionary project destined to revolutionize the satellite Internet market.

At that time, ViaSat had almost everything it needed: world class technology, a talented team of engineers, a satellite under construction and a plan for a revolutionary ground network. The only thing the company lacked was the support structure for selling and supporting a residential Internet service, working with local dealers, sending monthly invoices, answering customer phone calls… in other words, all the capabilities that WildBlue already had. It was a natural fit. In December 2009, ViaSat acquired WildBlue including its customers, satellites and operational expertise.


Part Four: Exede Internet Service

In October 2011, ViaSat successfully launched our new satellite, ViaSat-1, into orbit over North America. We announced our new services at CES in January 2012, wowing technology reporters with live demonstrations of the service – and the knowledge that unlike much of the technology shown at CES, our service would be available for purchase the following week! We also announced a new name for the service: Exede satellite Internet service, to differentiate it from our original WildBlue service. With download speeds up to 12 Mbps, proprietary acceleration software and an entirely new technology on the ground, our new Exede service is a completely different experience compared with yesterday’s satellite Internet service.

Both WildBlue and Exede satellite Internet services are delivered by the same team of people. From our communications engineers to our local dealers to our support staff who answer your phone calls, we’re here to help make your satellite Internet experience the best that it can be regardless of the name. ViaSat now supports both the WildBlue and Exede networks, and the people behind the scenes are the same. In fact, a number of the original WildBlue employees remain with the company, including WildBlue co-founder Tom Moore. And the Chairman and CEO of ViaSat is still Mark Dankberg, just as it was in the beginning.

Our roadmap for the future includes both new innovation and improvements for current customers. We’re already planning our next satellite, with yet another leapfrog gain in technology and service levels. At the same time, we’re looking at ways to improve service and speeds for our current customers, especially for those who remain on the original WildBlue network.

ViaSat provides both WildBlue and Exede satellite Internet services, and is one of the leading innovators of satellite communications technology. We’ve focused here on the story of WildBlue and Exede satellite Internet services. ViaSat has a fascinating story of its own. We encourage you to learn more about ViaSat. We’re dedicated to providing the best satellite communications technology, solutions and services in the world.

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