Image via ViaSat and NASA

APEX Insight: ViaSat and the European Space Agency have formed a public-private partnership called Project AIDAN. The agreement will involve the development of broadband satellite user terminals, including a fully-electronic phased array for in-flight connectivity applications across the European continent. According to some analysts, the cost-sharing deal is one of several ways ViaSat is seeking to skirt opposition to its European satellite broadband plans.

ViaSat announced yesterday that it has signed a public-private partnership (PPP) agreement with the European Space Agency (ESA) to develop “key components” of its ViaSat-3 communications system, through its ViaSat Antenna Systems subsidiary.

The partnership, known as Project AIDAN, involves the development of broadband satellite user terminals, including a fully-electronic phased array for residential broadband, in-flight Wi-Fi and connected car applications; and the development of cloud-based ground network infrastructure. According to Space Intel Report, the cost-sharing agreement is one of several ways ViaSat is attempting to overcome resistance to its European satellite broadband plans.

Each ViaSat-3 satellite will offer over 1-Terabit-per-second (Tbps) of Ka-band network capacity, which the company claims is “comparable to the total capacity of all commercial satellites currently in space.” ViaSat says the platform will offer consumers a wider choice of Internet Service Providers, by enabling home broadband bandwidth speeds of up 100 Mpbs.

The investment is worth €68 million with a €31.2 million portion co-financed by the ESA’s Telecommunications and Integrated Applications Directorate, with the support of the governments of Switzerland, Romania and the Netherlands, whose domestic industries will benefit from contracts. ViaSat and ESA said they will begin offering products through the PPP in 2019.

“We believe this is a significant industrial opportunity that will keep Europe at the forefront of satellite and broadband technology development,” – Magali Vaissiere, ESA

“The PPP with ViaSat will bring ESA and industry together to quickly develop broadband products that will serve the needs of millions of consumers across Europe who are currently without adequate internet service,” said Magali Vaissiere, director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications, ESA. “We believe this is a significant industrial opportunity that will keep Europe at the forefront of satellite and broadband technology development, giving Europe a leading position on the deployment of a next-generation broadband system with advanced ground networks and consumer equipment.”

Also commenting on the announcement, Mark Dankberg, ViaSat’s chairman and CEO said, “ESA aims to foster space innovation and promote a strong space economy. As a global company with a growing presence in Europe, we are proud to partner and tap into the space interests of ESA, the Member States and European industry. Our new Public Private Partnership with ESA will develop and bring to market new satellite-based broadband technologies to ensure European citizens have access to affordable, high-quality internet services.”