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WildBlue gears up

Sat, 01/31/2004 - 7:00pm
Staff

Re-energized broadband satellite service provider WildBlue Communications has signed on ViaSat to supply consumer premises equipment and gateway gear. The agreement is valued at more than $33 million, the companies said.

The contract includes ViaSat's Ka-band satellite modem and outdoor Ka-band transceiver electronics. ViaSat said it is scheduled to begin delivering the CPE gear to WildBlue in the first quarter of 2004. Taking a page from the cable modem sector, ViaSat is powering its CPE gear for Wildblue with DOCSIS-based technology.

WildBlue expects to kick off satellite broadband service in the second half of this year, initially targeting about 30 million homes and small offices that do not have access to other broadband options.

The agreement marks the latest between the two companies. In March 2001, WildBlue announced it had tapped ViaSat to build its satellite modems. The initial portion of the contract was valued at roughly $16 million.

WildBlue has also tapped Raven Manufacturing Ltd. to design and produce outdoor satellite receiver equipment for its Ka-band-based satellite broadband service.

Under the deal, Raven will produce, test and ship all components to the U.S., where the company will then handle final assembly, packaging, storage and delivery to WildBlue.

U.K.-based Raven said it will be using a WildBlue-patented antenna design that operates at both Ka and Ku bands, and expects to deliver the first units to WildBlue early next year.

Raven's U.S. facility is based in Chicago. The company also supplies receive-only antennas to European DBS provider BSkyB.

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