Viasat capacity and service limitations

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I don’t understand Viasat capacity or economics. We are on Viasat-1, supposedly it has more capacity than all the NA satellites combined. It operates at Ka-band, the most advanced technology for geo satellites. And yet, our residential service costs at least $100/month, is a shared service offering downloads of up to 13Mbps but we are severely constrained in how much we can use (forget unlimited; if your traffic isn’t priority, downloads suck). I was in this industry and also an analyst covering it. I can’t fathom why our service is so limited.
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Jay

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Posted 3 weeks ago

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Homeskillet

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In a lot of areas the service is over sold, creating congestion, the enemy of all wireless types of internet.
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ExSatUser

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They also use capacity to serve commercial airlines. But as an analyst covering the industry I am sure you are aware of that.
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Voyager

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You don’t understand satellite systems very well for supposedly being an analyst for that industry.  IT is pretty easy.  You take the total bandwidth capacity of the satellite and divide it by number of concurrent users and you will get an estimate of how much bandwidth each user can expect.  When you are talking one satellite and probably hundreds of thousands of users, the average bandwidth per user is pretty meager.  This isn’t rocket science.
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Old Labs

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The claim that Viasat-1 had more capacity than others combined was only true at the time it launched - that's no longer true. The current claim is that Viast-3 constellation will have more capacity that the rest of the world combined.

Capacity is fixed at launch time:

Viasat-1 total capacity is 140 Gbps
Viasat-2 capacity was to have been 300 Gbps but estimated to be 260 Gbps after antenna anomaly

Sounds like a lot but not really given today's consumer demands.

According to past quarterly conference calls, 90% of Viasat-1 is subscribers, while targeting 50% subscribers on Viasat-2.

According to the most recent conference call and financials, residential subscribers are up just a bit with the last figure being 587,000.

Simply not enough capacity for the subscriber base.... when it comes to price, cost vs supply vs demand...

    
(Edited)
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ExSatUser

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You sound like an industry analyst. Are you?
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Old Labs

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No, I understand satellite ;)

But I can still remember a time when you and I marveled that any of this actually worked and it served us well - I'm now using it as a backup to cellular and really have no complaints despite being on the dreaded 329 in VA. Cellular drops to < 1 Mbps (as congestion on the tower increases) in the evenings but still getting 9-12 Mbps in evenings on Viasat-1 - right now I'm on sat since cellular is very sluggish until early AM.
(Edited)
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Voyager

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So, if you take the next step and do a little math...

400 Gbps total is 400,000 Mbps.  Divide that by 587,000 and you have about .68 Mbps per user on average.  However, some fraction of the 400 Gbps is almost certainly dedicated to commercial users.  Let’s say 50% just for grins.  That gets us down to 200,000 Mbps / 587,000 users or about .34 Mbps per user.  However, not all users are on at the same time, but let’s say even 25% of the user base is active, that still gives only a little over 1.2 Mbps per user.  To get 12 Mbps per user, you would need to have only about 3% of the user base active, assuming I didn’t screw up the math.  Herein lies the problem.  Now, if Viasat had 10 satellites in orbit...
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Old Labs

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And the majority of those 587,000 want to be using it in prime time evening hours. 

Remember that's total capacity, not capacity per spot beam. In the case of Viasat-1, there are 72 spot beams. Presumably capacity on each spot beam is approximately 2 Gbps and can't be shifted to another beam if underutilized. No figures have ever been provided for Viasat-2, but there was some indication that there was the capability to shift capacity between beams on that beam.

That's why some beams are better than others on Viasat-1 - fewer subscribers on those beams. 

    
(Edited)
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GabeU, Champion

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And the majority of those 587,000 want to be using it in prime time evening hours.
And increasingly for one main thing: streaming. 
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Voyager

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@Dances.  Absolutely.  No way to know what a given beam will see, but at least the overall averages given a reasonable idea why things are so bad most of the time.  And why they offer free use from 3 - 6 AM when maybe 0.1% of the residential users are active.
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ExSatUser

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Streaming has to be absolutely killing beams on Viasat-1, even with the video resolution downgrader.

And it is going to only get worse. 4K TV's becoming mainstream now, and many Viasat plans can only deliver 360 or 480p. I mean it is what it is, but data needs are only going to increase and satellite hadn't kept up with demand yet. Our country desperately needs it internet infrastructure boosted, but it is going to take time and money.
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GabeU, Champion

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I can't add anything to what's already been said about capacity and individual speed, but when it comes to cost, satellite internet is the most expensive form of commercial internet, per capita, to both provide and maintain.  It's more expensive because it's more expensive to get it to you.