Viasat is best known for powering fast in-flight Wi-Fi on commercial airlines and government VIP aircraft. Now the satellite Internet provider is dipping its toes in the connected car market.
Bentley Motors, a subsidiary of Volkswagen, said this week that it has hired Viasat to deliver fast, reliable and secure in-car Wi-Fi for its new Bentley Advanced Connectivity service.
Available for all Bentley models in 2019, Advanced Connectivity will create an in-vehicle virtual private network. The cost and other details were not disclosed. Bentley said the service expects to deliver secure access to files, video conferencing, movie streaming and other business and entertainment content on the go.
Viasat does not expect the Bentley partnership to drive significant sales in 2019. But it does expose the company to the connected car market for first time.
"What we are doing here is wading into the pool to understand and characterize the market," said Ken Peterman, senior vice president of Viasat. "The connected car market is an interesting one, and I think it will develop quickly once it gains traction."
Viasat supplies in-flight Wi-Fi to American, JetBlue and other airlines via satellites. It also provides satellite Internet service to homes and businesses outside the reach of cable.
In its deal with Bentley, broadband will come from cellular networks – at least initially. The platform can aggregate channels from up to three mobile operators to boost speeds and reliability. The Wi-Fi router and other parts of the system are in the trunk.
While Viasat serves satellite Internet to airlines and homes, it also has a large defense business. That division has been delivering tactical, secure communications to the military over several platforms – including line-of-sight data links, cellular, Wi-Fi and satellite_for more than two decades, Peterman said.
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