Viasat Inc. (NASDAQ: VSAT) and China Satellite Communications Co., Ltd. (China Satcom) had signed an agreement for a strategic partnership to jointly provide in-flight connectivity (IFC) services within China for domestic and international airlines.
Viasat and China Satcom will work in partnership to enable Viasat’s global airline customers to have roaming connectivity when flying over China; provide IFC service to domestic flights within China; and enable Chinese airlines to roam onto Viasat’s global network.
China Satcom is a licensed telecommunications service provider in China and also owns and operates the most capable and extensive Ka-band spotbeam satellite system in China, which is the only Ka-band system currently available for IFC service in the country.
China is the second largest aviation market in the world according to research from the International Air Transport Association. As one of the fastest growing flying populations globally, and one of the most mobile and digitally-enabled, there is tremendous national interest in high-speed, high-quality IFC on flights in country. Yet today only about four percent of flights within China are connected.
Viasat and China Satcom will jointly develop and share in future China-based IFC business.
Viasat will deliver and support its award-winning IFC equipment to airlines tailored for use on the China Satcom network. Today approximately 2,000 global aircraft are already served by, or planned for use on Viasat’s ViaSat-1 and KA-SAT satellites, as well as compatible satellites operating in Australia, Brazil, and other cooperating regional and global markets.
China Satcom will leverage its telecommunications service provider business license, operating expertise, and existing ground infrastructure to lead delivery of advanced IFC services to the airlines. China Satcom’s growing Ka-band fleet includes the already operational ChinaSat-16 satellite as well as ChinaSat-18, planned for launch later in 2019.
Per the terms of the agreement, each company will maintain its own intellectual property and will operate its equipment using a multi-layered approach to network services. This agreement specifically covers commercial aviation IFC, but could extend into the development of new connectivity applications for other ancillary markets in China. Financial terms of the agreement are not being disclosed.
Don Buchman, VP and GM, Commercial Aviation, Viasat, stated this agreement with China Satcom is a significant step toward realizing a seamless global community of high performance IFC. China Satcom is now the only satellite operator and licensed service provider in China with the bandwidth resources to deliver the in-flight experience Viasat airline customers have come to expect and depend on. This partnership is a natural way to extend state-of-the-art services specific to China Satcom’s fleet and the China domestic market, and create a global roaming alliance for the company's existing and new domestic and international customers and the rapidly growing Chinese global commercial airline fleet.