As we head into the New Year, we’re looking back on some of the top stories of 2020 on the Viasat Blog. In this post, we focus on stories about our people and outreach efforts.
Viasat working to keep people safe and connected during coronavirus outbreak
Viasat committed to meet the Federal Communications Commission’s “Keep Americans Connected” pledge.
Viasat worked with its residential and small business customers to keep them connected, helping lessen potential health and economic impacts associated with the pandemic.
In alignment with the request the FCC has made to all internet service providers, Viasat pledged for at least 60 days to not terminate service to any residential or small business customers because of their inability to pay bills due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, waive any late fees any residential or small business customers incur because of economic circumstances related to the pandemic; and open its Wi-Fi hotspots to any American who needs them.
Viasat later extended the commitment through June 30.
Viasat recognized by Fast Company in 2020 World Changing Ideas awards
Fast Company selected Viasat’s Community Wi-Fi service as a finalist in the Best World Changing Idea North America and Developing World Technology categories, and gave the service an honorable mention in the General Excellence category as part of the publication’s 2020 World Changing Ideas Awards.
Viasat’s satellite-enabled Community Wi-Fi hotspot service brings high-speed, affordable Wi-Fi directly to consumer’s mobile devices in unserved and underserved towns, communities and cities. The highly-scalable service, which falls under Viasat’s Community Internet product line, requires minimal local infrastructure, is economically sustainable and rapidly deployable in places where terrestrial fixed and wireless services struggle to perform, or may never reach.
Viasat was the first company to launch a satellite-enabled Community Wi-Fi hotspot service, bringing connectivity initially to people in Mexico and Brazil, with plans to expand into other countries globally.
Viasat helps the close the gap on Spain’s internet connectivity goal
Viasat helped Spain close in on a decade-long goal. Two years ago, the company began offering high-speed satellite internet service in Spain, with unlimited data plans offering up to 50 Mbps speeds. Spain is among several European countries working to offer service at a minimum of 30 Mbps to all its citizens by 2020.
In Spain, a country of more than 46 million, 2018 figures showed about 20% – or around 10 million people – lacked such access. While disruptions tied to COVID-19 have delayed the release of updated data, many believe that number now stands at only about 4 million.
To help cross that divide, Viasat collaborated with several Spanish companies to let people know about the service. Call centers with agents take sales orders, and a network of installers ensures the best possible service experience. As it has in the U.S., the coronavirus dramatically shifted the demand for internet service and its delivery in Spain.
Viasat and Expedition Communications team up to help Puerto Rican businesses
In 2017, Hurricane Maria destroyed power lines and cellular towers throughout Puerto Rico, taking out more than 95 percent of cell sites and essentially leaving the devastated island without internet. It took almost a year to restore power to the island and to return internet speeds and access to pre-storm levels.
As the 2020 hurricane season began, Viasat and Expedition Communications teamed up to help Puerto Rican businesses stay operational no matter the weather. Satellite internet, which relies on signals sent from high above the earth, isn’t typically subject to the same service interruptions as terrestrial-based services.
“We’ve made a long-term commitment to Puerto Rico, and to the companies there for the long haul,” said Jerry Creekbaum, chief technology officer at Expedition Communication, a California-based wholesale satellite internet and telecommunications company. “We rely heavily on Viasat for the technology. It’s a great partnership, and a true benefit to the people on the island.
In Australia, Viasat enters a unique partnership
When Viasat launched its new Real-Time Earth (RTE) facility in Alice Springs, Australia in July, it also activated a long-term, mutually beneficial partnership. Viasat gained an ideal location in which to expand its growing RTE technology, and the Aboriginal-owned company that built the facility got an economic boost that stands to benefit its employees for years to come.
Viasat’s RTE network provides Ground-Station-as-a-Service to the earth observation and remote sensing satellite community. In Australia, Viasat has contracts with the U.S. and Australian governments and commercial customers who are using the RTE antenna systems.
The Australia site is a crucial southern hemisphere link in the growing Viasat RTE system.
The new facility is located at the Centre for Appropriate Technology (CfAT), which creates opportunities for Indigenous Australians to use their land resources for technology-based projects, giving them control of their future.
Viasat India celebrates its fifth year
Ashish Mittal worked for five different companies before joining Viasat’s India office, and says some of them shared many of Viasat’s best qualities. But Viasat’s Chennai, India office is unique in one very important way.
“What is different here is this is family,” he said. “The people I work with here don’t feel like just colleagues anymore.”
The Viasat India office first opened in a temporary site on Oct. 12, 2015. It moved into its own office in June 2016. Growth led to the opening of a second Chennai office – about two miles from the first – in January 2018. Viasat’s India offices employ 196 people.
The offices help build Viasat’s footprint in Asia as the company moves toward becoming a global internet provider. Engineers here work on web acceleration, next-generation cloud, virtualization and network management applications, commercial air and residential internet – cutting-edge technology that draws ambitious tech employees.
In leadership evolution, Viasat top executive transform their roles
As Viasat’s top executives, Mark Dankberg and Rick Baldridge have forged a strong partnership over the years. As Chairman and CEO, Dankberg, one of the company’s founders, managed the company’s overall direction and technology while President and COO Baldridge handled operations. Now, the two have made that arrangement more formal, with Dankberg assuming a new role as Executive Chairman of the Company and Baldridge stepping into the CEO role.
Dankberg continues to serve as Chairman of the Board for Viasat.
Presented as a seamless transition, it’s also part of a strategic alignment as Viasat grows into a global company and the need to create a long-term succession plan became more apparent.
As President and CEO, Baldridge continues his executive and operational leadership, with a focus on building and growing a customer-centric organization that will continue to deliver compelling global services and products. Baldridge maintains his seat on the Viasat Board of Directors.
Dankberg, who’s been a visionary technology driver in the satellite industry for many years, said he was excited to focus more exclusively on Viasat’s technology vision, providing technical thought leadership and strategic oversight of the Company’s innovation roadmap and technical advocacy.
Employees find a way to give back virtually during Viasat Volunteer Week
Viasat employees gave back during the coronavirus in unique ways. Several stepped up to become virtual volunteer educators, talking with students in classrooms across the country via Zoom about their experiences working at Viasat.
In Denver and Carlsbad, several employees volunteered with Missing Maps, a collaborative program dedicated to mapping the most vulnerable places in the developing world so agencies can better respond to crises there.
In Ireland, 10 of the Dublin office’s employees gathered for a socially distanced cleanup project. They picked up trash along the Grand Canal, which passes by the Viasat office.
Social Impact Coordinator Alyssa Gaffney said she hopes Viasat employees will continue to engage in volunteering.
“Virtual volunteering is a great option because it’s more flexible and can be done throughout the year,” she said. “Volunteering doesn’t always have to be for a specific organization or during volunteer week. You can do acts of kindness in your neighborhood – cleanups, helping a neighbor, delivering meals or groceries — and still make an impact.”
Viasat awards grants to small businesses impacted by coronavirus
In late 2020, Viasat Business Internet started the Ready. Set. Grow. small business grant program in response to the challenging times brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. Through the program, five small businesses each received a $5,000 grant, and five others each received a $1,000 grant. Recipients were selected based on their responses to a short series of essay questions, and included a locally-owned southern Texas restaurant, a California day care center, a Missouri veteran-focused counseling center, a nonprofit urban garden and food cooperative in Philadelphia, and an Indiana millwright services company – all heavily impacted by closures and loss of revenue incurred during the coronavirus crisis.
Read more about our grant winners:
- Small organizations struggling through the pandemic get a little help from Viasat
- Nonprofit feeds its community physically, financially and spiritually
- Viasat grant helps support mental health services geared toward veterans
- Indiana company will use Viasat grant funds to help support family business
- California daycare center using Viasat grant to fill vital coronavirus need
- Viasat grant provides relief for Texas restaurant