3/01/06 – WildBlue Communications announced that Arianespace has scheduled the launch of its Ka-band spot beam satellite, WildBlue-1, on an Ariane 5 vehicle in the fourth quarter of 2006 from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana. WildBlue provides broadband connectivity via satellite to homes and small businesses in communities where terrestrial broadband access is either limited or unavailable. The WildBlue-1 satellite will enable WildBlue to serve more customers throughout the United States.
WildBlue-1, manufactured by Space Systems/Loral, will approximately triple WildBlue’s customer capacity, and is expected to handle WildBlue’s continuing rapid customer growth into 2008 and beyond. WildBlue-1 is a 4.7 metric ton high power satellite based on Space Systems/Loral’s 1300 spacecraft bus and provides Ka-band spot beam capacity over the contiguous United States. Spot beam Ka-band satellites are a key component in WildBlue’s low-cost wireless broadband infrastructure. WildBlue currently utilizes the Ka-band spot beam capacity over the United States on Telesat Canada’s Anik F2 satellite, which was launched by Arianespace in July 2004.
“WildBlue-1 will help to ensure that we are able to handle 100 percent of customer demand into the foreseeable future,” said Dave Leonard, Chief Executive Officer of WildBlue. “Our low-cost, high-speed Internet via satellite service has proven extremely popular nationwide, requiring that we accelerate the launch of our new satellite later this year to meet the demand.”
Based on a successful fourth quarter launch, WildBlue will conduct in-orbit testing, and expects to offer service to its customers via the WildBlue-1 satellite in January 2007. WildBlue owns a lifetime lease on Anik F2’s Ka-band payload over the U.S. and will continue to use that capacity as well.
“WildBlue-1 has been built to handle a very large capacity of customers,” said Jim Elliot, WildBlue’s Vice President of Infrastructure. “This satellite uses advanced technology and will enable WildBlue to significantly augment its Ka-band spot beam platform across the U.S.”
“Arianespace is pleased to work with WildBlue on the launch of WildBlue-1. Preparations are firmly underway for a successful fourth quarter launch of this year on an Ariane 5,” said Jean-Yves Le Gall, President and Chief Executive Officer of Arianespace.
WildBlue also announced it has contracted with Andrew Corporation to build two new spot beam gateways and augment the existing U.S. gateways that WildBlue currently utilizes. In addition, the company has exercised an agreement with Viasat to deliver the equipment necessary to serve the added customers in the additional gateways.
An always-on broadband Internet connection, WildBlue’s service offers access speeds up to 30 times faster than dial-up. WildBlue’s two-way satellite service provides high-speed data in both upstream and downstream directions. Customers do not need a phone or cable line in order to receive broadband Internet access.