Viasat names new leader for its government business

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Craig Miller was named president of Viasat Government Systems

WASHINGTON — Viasat, a provider of satellite-based communications services, announced May 25 it has named Craig Miller to lead the company’s government business.

Miller, who joined the company in 1995 and most recently was Viasat’s chief technology officer, takes over as president of Viasat Government Systems, a post previously held by Ken Peterman. The company said Peterman will transition to a new role as advisor to Viasat’s CEO Rick Baldridge.

Craig Miller

Viasat, based in Carlsbad, California, generated about $2.3 billion in revenue in 2020, about half of which is from U.S. government contracts. The company operates geostationary broadband satellites that provide wi-fi for commercial airlines, residential use and other consumer services. Its government business focuses on satellite communications and cyber security services, as well as tactical data terminals used by the U.S. military and allies. 

Government and defense are a “really dynamic and really interesting market space right now,” Miller told SpaceNews. “Viasat’s customers are facing new threats and challenges and a geopolitical environment that’s rapidly changed in the last five to 10 years and it’s probably going to continue to change.”

Viasat Government Systems’ largest customers include the U.S. Defense Department, intelligence community and Department of Homeland Security; some state governments and allied nations like the United Kingdom and Australia. The company provides satellite-based communications and networking services for Air Force One presidential aircraft.

Viasat in December won a $50.8 million seven-year contract from the Air Force Research Laboratory to help integrate government and commercial satcom networks. So-called hybrid networking and adaptive networking are areas where Viasat sees significant growth, Miler said. 

Under a separate $10 million contract from AFRL  Viasat is building a small satellite equipped with a Link 16 military communications terminal that will operate in low Earth orbit. Link 16 is an encrypted radio frequency widely used by the U.S. military and NATO allies to share information across the battlefield. Viasat makes Link 16 terminals are deployed aboard aircraft, land vehicles and ships to facilitate the exchange of data in standard message formats.

The rise of commercial space internet constellations in low Earth orbit has created competitive challenges for geostationary satellite operators like Viasat. The company last year announced it would build a constellation of nearly 300 satellites in low Earth orbit if it can qualify for subsidies from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to provide broadband in rural areas. 

Miller said the new competitive environment “is one of the things I’m really excited about, It’s is an opportunity for us to really refocus on innovation and getting innovations to market as quickly as possible.”

Areas where Viasat is looking to advance include cyber security and laser-based communications, or free space optics, said Miller. “We have some really interesting technologies and I think we can really break into the free space optics market.”