WildBlue launched its first satellite in 2004 and was one of the first to see the enormous potential of satellite internet technology in the decades to come.
The following year, it started offering and delivering internet service to its first customers. WildBlue offered internet speeds of up to 1.5 Mbps, which is slow by today’s standards, but in 2005, it was 30 times faster than dial-up internet service, which was rural America’s only other option at the time. Additionally, 1.5 Mbps was more than enough speed for basic web-browsing. Services like Netflix, YouTube and Hulu, which require more speed and bandwidth, were not around, and Facebook was still a startup at a university. At the time, WildBlue speeds were more than adequate.
Demand for Exede WildBlue satellite internet service, and internet service in general, grew tremendously over the next five years. Despite its launching a second satellite, WildBlue was unable to grow its speed at the same rate as consumer demand wanted it to. In 2009, WildBlue was acquired by Viasat, who had announced it was going to launch the highest capacity communications satellite ever built the previous year.
Viasat, which would benefit greatly from an established customer base, operational expertise on the ground and WildBlue’s existing satellites, and WildBlue, which would benefit greatly from Viasat’s engineering and technological expertise, were a perfect match. In 2011, Viasat launched a new, much faster satellite internet service that could accommodate the needs of a much faster, more connected world called Exede.
WildBlue service is still available today in the very small, very limited space that Viasat-1, the mothership of Exede satellite internet service, does not service. Its speeds still max out at around 1.5 Mbps, but in the areas that it is still available, there is rarely an alternative.