ViaSat serves up digital satellite, networking, and signal processing equipment for both government and commercial clients. It makes secure networking products for tactical communications and mobile satellite communications systems designed for military use. For the commercial market, ViaSat produces satellite broadband systems for consumer applications, as well as antenna systems, mobile satellite systems, and very small aperture terminal (VSAT) products used in enterprise telecommunications. The US government is the company's largest client. Other key customers include aerospace and defense contractors such as Boeing and Raytheon. Subsidiary WildBlue Communications provides consumer satellite services.
ViaSat's business is heavily weighted toward serving federal government agencies such as the Department of Defense and its contractors; the US government accounted for about one quarter of sales in 2011, continuing a downward trend. In order to diversify its business and reduce its reliance on federal clients, the company is eyeing the international commercial satellite market as an area of growth, particularly in underserved areas of developing nations where demand for expanded communications infrastructure is on the rise. The company is also investing in research and development as it tries to woo more enterprise customers. In 2011 the company signed a deal to provide in-flight satellite Internet access for Continental Airlines using its Ka-band wireless data system.
ViaSat logged higher revenue and profits for 2011 over 2010. Sales made by the company's product segment decreased yet again, due to a decline in commercial system sales, while satellite service sales increased significantly due to the acquisition of WildBlue in 2009. ViaSat cited increased service costs related to the WildBlue satellite services as limiting the growth of profits in 2011.
ViaSat acquired broadband satellite Internet provider WildBlue for $568 million in a late 2009 bid to add consumer communications services. ViaSat hopes that the launch of a new satellite will make it possible for WildBlue to boost its transmission speeds to levels comparable with those offered by terrestrial cable broadband providers. To be known as ViaSat-1, the satellite is slated for launch in 2011. To raise working capital for the launch and to pay down debt, the company made a public offering of stock in early 2010, bringing in about $100 million.
Also in 2011 Viasat bought the SKYLink airborne broadband service, which serves about 80 private business jets, from ARINC. ViaSat combined SKYLink with its existing Yonder service. The company also bought Stonewood Group, a provider of data encryption products and services to improve the data security of its systems. Stonewood's products are used to encrypt information on hard drives to protect classified information and intellectual property when laptops are stolen or lost.
In addition to retail and wholesale high-speed Internet over fixed satellite connections through WildBlue, ViaSat also provides mobile broadband service under the Yonder brand, which enables airborne, maritime, and terrestrial wireless device users to make broadband connections using ViaSat's ArcLight system. – less