Faster in the air: Viasat removes speed caps to the aircraft on business aviation Ka-band plans

Viasat has doubled the minimum committed speed to the aircraft across its Ka-band in-flight service plans, addressing growing appetite for bandwidth-heavy applications such as videoconferencing.


Private jet use is expected to surge as COVID-19-related travel restrictions ease and companies look to minimize employees’ exposure to the virus when they travel by air. But it is not just demand for this type of transport that is expected to grow.

After months of working remotely and conducting meetings through videoconferencing apps, expectations that the home-quality broadband people have become so accustomed to will be replicated when they travel are also likely to be sky high.

Great news, then, that Viasat has removed speed limits to the aircraft on its Ka-band in-flight connectivity service for business aviation – ensuring that the sky office is just as productive as the home office. And when it’s time to switch off from work, this increase of speeds across our business aviation network will enable private jet passengers to reliably stream entertainment content to their devices.

By eliminating speed limits to the aircraft, Viasat’s already award-winning Ka-band in-flight Wi-Fi service just got even better. Customers can consistently expect speeds greater than 20 Mbps to the aircraft, meaning passengers and crew can access more data at higher speeds across multiple devices, simultaneously.

Demand increasing

A recent in-flight entertainment and connectivity report published by Euroconsult found that demand is increasing for bandwidth-heavy applications such as videoconferencing and high-definition video streaming. The report analyzed the 10-year period through December 2028, during which time Euroconsult expects to see “dramatic growth in data consumption, both by passengers and by the aircraft themselves.”

According to mobile market data provider App Annie, the week of March 14-21, 2020 was the “biggest week ever” for global business-related app downloads, which topped 62 million across iOS and Google Play Store. This growth was fueled by conferencing apps as “record levels of consumers” demanded “work connectivity and accessibility” from their mobile devices as the COVID-19 pandemic intensified.

“Now more than ever before, we are relying on mobile to do our jobs, stay informed and keep connected,” wrote App Annie in this recent blog post. “Countries affected early on in the pandemic have recorded surges in daily time spent on mobile, and everything from dating to gaming to finance is seeing coronavirus’s impact on mobile.”

This increased reliance on personal electronic devices and bandwidth-heavy apps is likely to be even more pronounced as business travelers cautiously take to the skies again – not just for work-related reasons but also for visiting with friends and family.

Improving the in-flight experience

By removing the speed limits and doubling the minimum committed speed to the aircraft across all of its business aviation Ka-band service plans, Viasat ensures that when people travel they can continue to do all of the things on their mobile devices that they’ve been doing more of in their homes.

“When you connect to streaming apps, for example Netflix or Amazon Prime, if you’re doing it over the internet it sometimes takes a few seconds before the content is loaded,” explains Claudio D’Amico, business area director, Business Aviation, at Viasat. “With the removal of speed limits, the time for that to happen is much faster so it’s more like an at-home experience. If you’re videoconferencing, the time it takes to load an image and the overall experience without pixelating will be improved.”

This is all made possible by the Viasat’s high-capacity satellite network combined with the company’s compact and lightweight hardware. Capacity is the engine behind high-speed internet, which is why Viasat has focused so heavily on creating satellites that have it in abundance.

When ViaSat-1 launched in 2011, it had more than double the capacity of traditional satellites at that time. Then, in 2017, ViaSat-2 launched with nearly twice the capacity of ViaSat-1. The upcoming ViaSat-3 global constellation will feature three satellites with a great deal more capacity than its predecessors.

Viasat’s Ka-band business aviation connectivity solution is expected to be forward-compatible, meaning that when customers install the hardware and subscribe to a Viasat service package today, they will be able to access the additional capacity, even faster speeds and expanded coverage afforded by ViaSat-3 when it becomes available, without having to make any hardware modifications.

In addition to enjoying the benefits of the recently removed speed limits, our business aviation customers have the option of subscribing to Viasat Unlimited Streaming, which removes the worry for passengers about how much data they are using. Unlimited Streaming offers a single monthly subscription fee and allows passengers to access online media services without impacting monthly data allowances.

Viasat’s existing Ka-band business aviation customers are already enjoying the faster speeds enabled by the elimination of speed limits, and the feedback has been positive. Our decision to remove the caps was timely, coinciding with a growing appetite for bandwidth-intensive applications.

Michelle Munoz-Talcott is Marketing Director, Global Mobile Solutions at Viasat. She leads marketing and strategy in the Global Mobile Solutions segment, which includes commercial and business aviation as well as maritime. She has over 20 years of marketing experience in the technology and wireless industries including Verizon, Vodafone and Nokia (formally Alcatel-Lucent). Her roles have included working in all facets of marketing and product management as well as international posts in Europe.