Viasat expanding its presence in nation’s capital

ViaSat has expanded its presence in the nation’s capital to help keep legislators aware of the valuable role satellite technology plays in a variety of areas.


Just half a mile from the White House, Viasat’s five-person Washington, D.C. staff carries out a unique segment of the company’s business.

The office is in a high-rise about a 30-minute walk from the United States’ Capitol, in easy reach of the government and military customers it serves and legislative hearings Viasat’s lobbyist and Government Systems’ employees attend.

It’s also a 5-minute walk from the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, a 2.3-million-square-foot building that’s hosted presidential inaugural balls and the world’s largest sit-down dinner. Viasat hosts receptions for attendees from relevant center events to help raise awareness about the company and show off our cutting-edge technologies.

In March, 2017, it hosted meetings and a social hour for attendees from the Satellite 2017 conference; CEO Mark Dankberg spoke and was among the conference’s featured speakers.

About 70 D.C.-area customers celebrated the ViaSat-2 launch at the office.

Viasat has long had a small office in D.C., but moved in 2016 to the much larger current space.

“We now have the ability to demonstrate live capabilities to the customer, and host a number of customer meetings,” said Shannon Smith, Director of Market Research for Government Systems. “This was designed to be a customer experience and collaboration center. We’ve held training sessions for field service reps on (products including) cybersecurity, data links, and Airborne ISR solutions.”

Viasat’s Vice President of Government Affairs Michael Rapelyea is based in the D.C. office. He works with legislators, the Federal Communications Commission and other agencies on issues including spectrum usage, net neutrality, regulations and the federal budget.

A room within the office is being designed as a secure work area, a windowless, soundproof meeting area designed according to strict government guidelines. Even in D.C., such rooms are relatively rare.

“It’s a secure work area where we can have classified meetings with our government customers,” Smith said.

And then there’s the fun side.

A large, unfinished room in the D.C. office soon will be converted into “Mark’s Garage”, a tribute to the space in which Viasat CEO Mark Dankberg, Mark Miller and Steve Hart co-founded Viasat in 1986. It will serve as a large meeting room and conference space but also will have shuffleboard and foosball tables.

Like every Viasat office, the Washington D.C. site is growing. Smith said the staff size there likely will soon double.

“We’re finding ourselves in D.C. more and more often as we continue to expand our government business,” she said.

Smith, a 5-year Viasat employee who recently transferred to D.C. from Arizona, looks forward to the growth of both the D.C. site and the company.

“This is a great company,” she said. “I like the fast pace, and the innovative environment. With ViaSat-2 and 3 coming along, it’s really important we keep getting our name out there and letting people know all that we’re doing and what the future holds.”