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Viasat Unveils Hybrid In-Flight Connectivity Antenna System

Zacks Equity Research

Viasat, Inc. VSAT recently launched its second-generation Ku-/Ka-band shipset, which includes a cutting-edge hybrid antenna and complementary radome. Notably, the satellite and wireless networking technology provider’s latest dual-band system, aimed at the commercial wide-body aircraft market, is likely to keep passengers and crew connected across commercial Ku- and Ka-band satellite networks.

Viasat has years of expertise in delivering dual-band antenna systems to the global market. The company’s dual-band system promotes effortless transitions among multiple satellite beams across Ku- and Ka-band networks. Reportedly, its next-generation Ku-/Ka-band terminal is the most capable and flexible solution for commercial wide-body aircraft. The shipset sets into motion an accelerated migration path for commercial airlines to operate on Viasat's global network. It enables worldwide roaming connectivity for new or retrofit aircraft serving a large and growing portion of their routes on the fastest Ka-band networks, and the balance on global widebeam or spotbeam Ku satellites.

Airlines can migrate a greater proportion of their routes to the faster, more economical Ka-band service enabled by a growing array of partner satellites and the global ViaSat-3 constellation planned for launch in 2021 and 2022. Viasat boasts a leading position in the satellite and wireless communications market. The company’s blue-chip customer base, which comprises the U.S. Department of Defense, civil agencies, allied foreign governments, satellite network integrators as well as large communications service providers and enterprises adds to its strength. Viasat is eyeing opportunities to extend broadband satellite mobility to rotary wing aircraft as it is a large addressable market that can emerge as a key profit churner.

Viasat’s Satellite Services business is progressing well, with key metrics including steady growth of ARPU (average revenue per user) and revenues showing impressive growth. ARPU is growing on the back of solid retail distribution network, which accounts for a growing proportion of high value and high bandwidth subscriber base. Further, rising adoption of in-flight Wi-Fi services in commercial aircraft are proving conducive the Satellite Services business growth.

In addition, Viasat is ramping up investments in its ViaSat-3 broadband communications platform, which will have about 10 times the bandwidth capacity of ViaSat-2. The ViaSat-3 payload program has begun its transition to the construction phase. These satellites will be capable of covering one-third of the world, including all the Americas, likely by 2019. The second ViaSat-3 will cover the Europe, the Middle East and Africa region, launching in 2020. The ViaSat-3 platform will help to form a global broadband network with sufficient network capacity to allow better consumer choices with an affordable, high-quality, high-speed Internet and video streaming service.

Driven by proper execution of operational plans, the stock has recorded an average return of 36.3% compared with the industry’s rise of 12.1% in the past three months.

Currently, Viasat has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). A few better-ranked stocks in the broader industry are CommScope Holding Company, Inc. COMM, Ubiquiti Networks, Inc. UBNT and Calix, Inc. CALX. While CommScope and Ubiquiti sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), Calix carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

CommScope has a long-term earnings growth expectation of 4%.

Ubiquiti has a long-term earnings growth expectation of 20.4%.

Calix has a long-term earnings growth expectation of 6%.

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