Latin American internet to be delivered by fizzy drinks company

Rick Baldridge Viasat.jpg

Viasat, the US company that this week announced a planned merger with Inmarsat, is to build a satellite-enabled community internet system covering Latin America and the Caribbean.

The satellite operator is working with Intercorp Perú, a conglomerate that extends from banking to schools and supermarkets, to build the network.

The partnership will use CBC, a Latin American Pepsi-Cola bottler, as its distribution network for satellite internet equipment.

Rick Baldridge (pictured), Viasat’s president and CEO, said: “By working with Intercorp, we gain a strong local partner that has depth and knowledge in the Latin American region, bringing distribution and fulfilment services to our community internet service.”

His term “community internet” refers to a central satellite-enabled hotspot that will connect to a satellite and deliver internet service to communities that previously had little or no internet connectivity.

Carlos Rodriguez-Pastor, chairman of Intercorp, said: “Our agreement with Viasat provides an opportunity to bring retail and financial goods and services to new markets in Latin America – while also bridging the digital divide and bringing new digital skillsets that will enable people and communities to flourish.”

The companies said that the service will cover the ViaSat-2 satellite footprint as well as future ViaSat-3 satellite coverage over Latin America.

Viasat-2 entered service in February 2018 and covers North America, central America and the Caribbean. But the company said initial coverage areas for the new Intercorp service will include Jamaica, Guatemala and Honduras with parts of South America expected to be served once the ViaSat-3 satellite is in service – expected in 2022.

The two companies said they have been working together to assess geographic markets and to develop the infrastructures, ecosystems, business models and applications needed to successfully bring high-quality connectivity to the hardest-to-reach communities.

“Intercorp has been a long-term partner that shares in our vision to positively impact individuals, communities and nations through technological innovation,” said Baldridge.

Intercorp said it has been looking for an internet service partner that could scale connectivity in an economically sustainable way. “This is because in addition to providing a wide-range of financial, retail and education services throughout Latin America, Intercorp has also partnered with Ideo to create Innova Schools, a best-of-breed school system in Peru, and to establish La Victoria Lab, an innovation team whose purpose is to improve the lives of Peruvian people through human-centred design.”

Viasat and Intercorp said they have partnered with CBC, a multinational bottler for Pepsi-Cola, Ambev beer and Beliv, which makes a drink based on tapioca.

CBC executive president Carlos Enrique Mata said: “We have a highly-successful built-in distribution network that can quickly bring quality internet service to the depth of Latin America.”

Viasat announced plans this week buy its UK-based rival Inmarsat for $7.3 billion.