ViaSat Awarded $70 Million Saudi Broadband Contract

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PARIS — Satellite broadband equipment provider ViaSat Inc. will build the ground infrastructure for Saudi Arabia’s Ka-band satellite broadband network under a contract valued at $70 million, ViaSat announced April 25.

The contract, with the King Abdul-aziz City for Science and Technology (KASCT), calls for Carlsbad, Calif.-based ViaSat to deliver satellite gateway Earth stations, network operation facilities and an undisclosed number of user terminals for the network.

The ground gear will be connected to the Arabsat 5C satellite owned by the Arabsat satellite organization, based in Riyadh.

Launched in September 2011 and now in operation at 20 degrees east, Arabsat 5C carries 12 Ka-band transponders and 10 spot beams. Arabsat 5C was built by Astrium Sateliltes and Thales Alenia Space of Europe and also carries a C-band payload. The satellite is designed to deliver 10 kilowatts of power to its payload at the end of its 15-year service life.

ViaSat said it collaborated with Arabsat in the design of the Arabsat 5C Ka-band payload.

ViaSat has its own satellite broadband business in the United States, marketed under the WildBlue and Exede names, that provides Ka-band satellite bandwidth from ViaSat-owned spacecraft. ViaSat also supplies the user terminals for Paris-based Eutelsat’s Tooway consumer broadband service using Eutelsat’s Ka-Sat satellite.

The provision of Ka-band satellite broadband to the Middle East became more competitive on April 24 with the successful launch of the Yahsat 1B all-Ka-band satellite owned by Yahsat of the United Arab Emirates. Part of the Yahsat 1B capacity is reserved for government and military use.