Viasat Targets Satellite-Powered In-Flight Wi-Fi Bounce; Delta will equip 230 additional planes

Satellite internet provider Viasat managed to keep its financial vessel on track during a turbulent 2021 fiscal year that included a sharp decline in in-flight Wi-Fi revenue as travelers stayed at home during the pandemic.

Now the Carlsbad company is looking for a bounce back as passengers return to the sky. To that end, Viasat said on Tuesday that Delta Air Lines would modernize 230 other planes in its domestic fleet with Viasat’s antennas to provide in-flight internet and video of the record to passengers.

This new award is in addition to the more than 300 Delta aircraft already in preparation to receive in-flight Wi-Fi powered by Viasat.

A total of 1,480 aircraft from Jet Blue, American Airlines, United Airlines and others are equipped with Viasat Internet service. But up to 630 of those planes were grounded at different times during the pandemic.

“This year, I think the hurdle was much higher than what might have been obvious to everyone,” CEO Richard Baldridge said on a conference call for fourth quarter and quarter results on Tuesday. full year of Viasat. “It was a really tough year and the team did a fantastic job. And things are accelerating. We envision growth for our 2022 fiscal year. ”

For its fiscal year, Viasat’s revenue fell 2% to $ 2.256 billion from a year earlier. Net income rose to a profit of $ 4 million under generally accepted accounting principles, compared to a loss of $ 200,000 the previous year.

In the fourth quarter, Viasat sales increased 1 percent to $ 596 million. GAAP net income reached $ 7.4 million, more than 300% from the previous year.

While the company’s in-flight connectivity business suffered during the pandemic, its in-home satellite internet service made up for the difference, as stay-at-home restrictions prompted customers to opt for top-notch packages. more expensive.

Viasat’s home Internet subscriber count stood at 590,000 at the end of March, roughly on par with the same quarter last year.

Still, this is down from a peak of 603,000 subscribers in September as competition intensifies for space Internet.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX has begun beta testing of Starlink – a constellation of thousands of Internet satellites in low Earth orbit. Amazon and OneWeb predict similar constellations.

Starlink promises faster speeds and less latency than high-orbiting geostationary satellites such as Viasat – although reviews of the Starlink service have so far been mixed. Beta service costs $ 99 per month, plus $ 499 one-time antenna fee.

Viasat’s response is a constellation of three high orbiting satellites with enormous capacity.

The first ViaSat-3 satellite is expected to be launched at the start of the 2022 schedule with coverage over the Americas. It aims to provide a terabyte of maximum throughput, far more than any other Internet satellite in space.

It is expected that two additional terabyte class satellites will be launched every six to nine months after the first ViaSat-3 enters orbit, covering the globe with blanket coverage.

Mike Crawford, analyst at B. Riley Securities, said the next-generation Viasat constellation will deliver the most available bandwidth at the lowest cost per bit in the world.

“We believe Viasat remains on track to expand its leadership position in the space industry which many see as rushing towards a trillion dollar annual saving over the next two decades,” Crawford said in a report. research report.

Viasat on Tuesday announced the promotion of two executives during the quarter. Craig Miller, who has been with the company since 1995, has been appointed president of the government systems business of Viasat, which has annual sales of over $ 1 billion, providing government customers with tactical radios, services by satellite, cybersecurity and other products.

Miller replaces Ken Peterman, who has taken on an advisory role within the company.

Evan Dixon has been named president of Viasat’s global fixed broadband business, which includes home and business Internet as well as community Wi-Fi, which delivers affordable Internet service to the world’s most difficult-to-reach places. He joined Viasat in 2015 and previously held leadership positions at DirecTV and AT&T.

Shares of the Carlsbad company ended Tuesday up 13 cents to $ 47.55 on the Nasdaq stock exchange.

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