WildBlue Communications'  new Ka-band spot beam satellite, WildBlue-1, was successfully launched on Dec. 8 from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana. The satellite will have to undergo the obligatory series of tests, which generally take several months. It is expected to be ready for commercial operation in early March.
WildBlue offers Internet access service at download/upload maximums of 1.5 Mbps/256 kbps to customers in the contiguous United States. The company says it currently has about 100,000 subscribers. With its current satellite, WildBlue could accommodate approximately 150,000 additional customers.
The new satellite will automatically triple WildBlue's customer capacity to about 750,000. The increase in capacity anticipates an increase in demand likely to ensue following the five-year distribution deals WildBlue signed in June with both DirecTV  and EchoStar .
WildBlue said the new satellite is expected to handle customer growth into 2008 and beyond.