Viasat (NASDAQ:VSAT) and Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) are collaborating to accelerate the deployment of affordable, high-speed Internet service to communities in rural Mexico that lack reliable Internet or have no connectivity at all.
The collaboration is based on deployment of Viasat's satellite-enabled Community WiFi hotspot service. The Viasat service requires minimal local infrastructure and is designed to be rapidly scalable in emerging markets where large gaps exist among demand, affordability and availability of Internet services.
As part of the collaboration, Viasat will place high-speed satellite Wi-Fi hotspots - delivered as a pre-paid service - at thousands of rural locations. Facebook is investing in the rollout and working with Viasat to help identify optimal deployment locations within Viasat's current and planned satellite coverage.
"Facebook is committed to working with industry partners around the world to help bring more people online to a faster Internet," said Dan Rabinovitsj, vice president, Facebook Connectivity. "Viasat's rapidly growing Community WiFi hotspot service, already available to over 1 million people in rural Mexico, is an example of a model that can help overcome the global connectivity challenges of accessibility and affordability, particularly in hard-to-reach rural areas. We are excited to partner with an industry leader like Viasat to accelerate WiFi network deployments. Our joint initiative will enable more people to connect with friends and family, share knowledge and access education and career opportunities."
The collaboration will initially focus on Mexico, with an opportunity to expand globally.
"Enabling the next 4 billion Internet users to come online is one of the grand challenges of our time - and participating in that is also one of the most exciting and rewarding opportunities of the mobile Internet era," said Mark Dankberg, chairman and CEO, Viasat. "Rural communities, especially in emerging markets, are often the hardest to serve economically, yet are a vivid example of how Viasat's innovative space communication systems can bring broadband communication services to the places that need it most, at the lowest bandwidth costs. We are pleased with the support that Facebook is bringing to our initiative and excited about the opportunity to accelerate the pace at which we can scale."
Viasat's Community WiFi service is designed to deliver up to 100 Mbps speeds at affordable prices. The service leverages the ViaSat-2 satellite, and the company is building a global constellation of three high-capacity satellites known as the ViaSat-3 class, intended to bring high-speed Internet to the hardest to reach places on Earth.