ViaSat looks to enter consumer broadband market through WildBlue acquisition

Satellite gear maker ViaSat will acquire Denver-based WildBlue Communications, which offers satellite broadband services in rural areas, for $568 million.

The deal is expected to help the company speed up its growth and allow ViaSat to enter the consumer market through WildBlue's 400,000 subscribers. WildBlue, which is 37-percent owned by Liberty Media, is also vying for broadband stimulus money on its own and through a partnership with Echostar. The duo is asking for a total of $530 million in grants and loans.

"WildBlue and ViaSat have been close partners for nearly a decade and today's announcement is the logical next step," said Mark Dankberg, ViaSat's chairman and CEO, in a statement. "By integrating ViaSat-1 and its ground network technology into the WildBlue operational and distribution platform, we believe we can meaningfully reduce our operational execution risks."

Dankberg added that ViaSat will launch its high-capacity ViaSat-1 satellite by 2011. The new satellite will increase network capacity 10 times and enable WildBlue to increase data speeds by three to five times and become competitive with broadband cable offerings at 8 Mbps downstream.

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