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Oversubscription Rates For Satellite Internet

Today, Doug Dawson published a blog post titled Understanding Oversubscription. In the post, Dawson gives a good introduction to how and why internet service providers oversell their services.

In the post’s comments section, a question was raised about oversubscription rates with satellite internet services. Conveniently, there’s enough publicly available information to make a back-of-the-envelope estimates of the oversubscription rates for HughesNet and Viasat, the largest satellite internet providers in the United States.

HughesNet Oversubscription Rate

HughesNet’s JUPITER 1 and JUPITER 2 satellites have a combined capacity of about 320Gbps.1 The last annual report for HughesNet’s parent company reported roughly 1.4 million subscribers in the Americas.2 I can guesstimate HughesNet’s oversubscription rate with the help of a few simplifying assumptions:

  • All 1.4 million customers in the Americans are served by JUPITER 1 and JUPITER 2
  • No other customers are served by JUPITER 1 or JUPITER 2
  • On average, customers subscribe to plans with 25Mbps speeds

With those assumptions, HughesNet has an oversubscription rate of about 109.3

Viasat Oversubscription Rate

Viasat’s 2020 Annual Report states that the company has 590,000 subscribers in the U.S.4 Based on some information on Viasat’s website, I can infer that the company’s active satellites have a combined capacity of about 375Gbps.5 Viasat serves a good number of customers outside of the U.S., which complicates the analysis. I’ll pretend half of the capacity, about 188Gbps, is available to U.S. customers. With these assumptions and an average speed of 25Mbps, I can roughly guesstimate Viasat’s oversubscription rate at about 78.6

Footnotes

  1. The following excerpts were taken from a page on Hughes’ website on 12/4/2020:
    “JUPITER 1…is designed with 120 Gbps of capacity.”
    “JUPITER 2…delivers more than 200 Gbps of capacity.”
  2. The following excerpt comes from EchoStar’s 2019 Annual Report:
    “Last year, HughesNet® continued to build on its success as the #1 consumer satellite Internet service, reaching over 1.4 million subscribers in the Americas with approximately 69% U.S. market share and approximately 237,000 subscribers in Central and South America.”
  3. 1,400,000 / (320,000 / 25) = 109.375
  4. The excerpt below comes from page 22 of Viasat’s 2020 Annual Report.
    “As of March 31, 2020, we provided fixed broadband services to approximately 590,000 U.S. subscribers (excluding subscribers whose service would have ordinarily been terminated in the absence of the federal FCC Pledge and similar state programs we are currently participating in to ensure our customers have access to connectivity during the COVID-19 pandemic).”
  5. Viasat is going to launch three next-generation satellites that each have a capacity of about 1,000 Gbps. Viasats website explains that these three satelites will have a combined capacity about eight times larger than the current fleet of satellites. Based on that, I can estimate the current capacity as 3,000Gbps / 8 = 375Gbps.

    The excerpt below comes from Viasat’s page about its satellite fleet:
    “Each ViaSat-3 satellite is expected to offer over 1 Terabit per second (Tbps)—or 1,000 Gbps—of total network capacity to deliver a global broadband network with enough bandwidth to deliver affordable, high-speed, high-quality internet and video streaming services. The ViaSat-3 constellation is anticipated to have approximately 8x the capacity of Viasat’s current satellite fleet combined.”

  6. 590,000 / (188,000 / 25) ≈ 78.5

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