ViaSat Launches Competitive High-Speed Internet Service
Carlsbad-based ViaSat Inc. has launched a new high-speed Internet service, called Exede, which the company says offers satellite-enabled speeds similar to the fastest terrestrial broadband technologies.
The service began Jan. 16, with speeds up to 12 megabits per second downstream and 3 megabits per second upstream, starting at $50 per month, according to a company statement.
“Our new Exede service speeds make us very competitive with wireless home broadband service as well as legacy DSL and many cable services,” said ViaSat Senior Vice President Tom Moore. He said the technology enables high-speed service to U.S. customers in cities, suburbs and rural areas.
The company said Exede includes advanced broadband technology providing a Web-browsing experience similar to fiber-based systems, quickly delivering pages, for instance, on media- and video-intensive websites.
The new service stems from ViaSat technologies first rolled out in 2008, when the company introduced a next-generation satellite system integrating ViaSat-1, billed as the world’s highest-capacity satellite.
— Lou Hirsh
Final Segment of I-15 Express Lanes Opens
The final four-mile expressway segment for Interstate 15 are open, giving drivers an additional two lanes in each direction from this city south to San Diego at the intersection of I-15 and state Route 163.
Built in the freeway median, the express lanes are free to cars with more than one rider, van pools, buses, permitted clean air vehicles, and motorcycles. The lanes are also available to solo drivers who pay varying tolls via the FasTrak system.
The San Diego Association of Governments, the transportation planning agency that built the lanes, is working with other agencies and companies by offering a variety of cash incentives to encourage the lane usage.
The I-15 express lanes were built in three segments and opened in stages starting in 2008. The total cost of the entire project is $1.3 billion, according to Sandag.
— Mike Allen
Firms Have Designs on Wireless Advancements
“MoCA” may not be a household term, but just wait. More than 25 million U.S. households will use it by 2014, says Vinay Gokhale, an executive with chipmaker Entropic Communications.
MoCA stands for Multimedia Over Coaxial Alliance. It’s a standard for networking several televisions and digital video recorders together in the home.
Both Entropic and Qualcomm Atheros want to make that network into something more: Something that can send data to wireless tablets, notebooks and smartphones.
Entropic and Qualcomm Atheros said recently that by the end of the first quarter, they will complete a reference design that will let wireless devices tap into a home’s MoCA backbone. The reference design will incorporate chips from both companies.
The two companies put forth their vision at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
All this comes as electrical engineers work on a way to let devices communicate successfully with each other using four technologies: MoCA, Wi-Fi, Ethernet and home plug power line.
Entropic trades on the Nasdaq as ENTR. Qualcomm’s Nasdaq symbol is QCOM.
— Brad Graves
Bank Completes Common Stock Private Placement
Silvergate Capital Corp., parent firm of Silvergate Bank in La Jolla, says it has completed a common stock private placement that raised $13.8 million in gross proceeds.
Lead investors in the transaction were Partner Reinsurance Co. Ltd., a subsidiary of PartnerRe Ltd., and Commerce Street Financial Partners LP.
The increased capital would boost Silvergate Bank’s leverage capital ratio on a pro forma basis using figures for Nov. 30 to more than 16 percent (5 percent is considered well-capitalized), and its total risk-based capital ratio to above 21 percent (10 percent is well-capitalized).
Silvergate Capital received a capital increase in August when it got $12.4 million on the sale of senior preferred stock to the U.S. Treasury through a Small Business Lending Fund program. That program was aimed at banks with less than $1 billion in assets to increase lending to small businesses.
— Mike Allen
WD-40 Reports Decline In Quarterly Profit
WD-40 Co. reported net income of $6.8 million for its first quarter ended Nov. 30, down 25 percent from the $9 million in net income for the like quarter of 2010.
Net sales for the quarter were $84.9 million, up from $80.9 million for the like quarter of 2010.
The company said increased advertising and promotional costs reduced profits in the most recently completed quarter.
WD-40 said it expects fiscal 2012 net sales of $353 million to $370 million, and net income of $37.2 million to $39.2 million, translating to $2.28 to $2.40 per diluted share based upon 16.3 million weighted average shares outstanding.
Gross margin this year should be close to 50 percent, the San Diego-based company said.
Last month, WD-40 increased its quarterly cash dividend from 27 to 29 cents per share. At the company’s last board meeting in December, it authorized a stock buyback of up to $50 million this year.
— Mike Allen
Building Housing VA Clinic Gets New Owner
Gatehouse Bank Plc, a London-based investment bank led by Kuwaiti investors, has sold the building housing the VA Oceanside Clinic for $54.5 million.
The 80,000-square-foot building, built in 2010 at 1300 Rancho Del Oro Road, remains leased and operated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, according to a Gatehouse statement. Gatehouse had owned the property for 18 months.
The new owner of the building is Cole Real Estate Investments of Phoenix, according to CoStar Group. The property was sold on behalf of the former owner by Connecticut-based investment management firm Arch Street Capital Advisors LLC.
Gatehouse is among the largest Islamic banking organizations in the United Kingdom, according to the bank’s statement, and has made more than $460 million in international real estate investments in the past two years.
Chairman Fahed Booda said Gatehouse will continue acquiring office, student accommodation and logistics properties in the coming year.
— Lou Hirsh
Fund Announces Merger of 5 Air Filtration Companies
Huntington Capital Fund II LP, a San Diego private equity fund, said it arranged a syndicated mezzanine loan for an undisclosed amount to Protect Plus Air Holdings LLC, a new holding company for five entities in the residential air filter space.
Huntington co-invested in the company with Plexus Capital Fund II LP, based in North Carolina.
Protect Plus was set up for the purpose of facilitating the roll up of five air filtration companies owned and controlled by the Hickory, N.C.-based Lackey Group. Combined, the companies make up the second largest air filtration company in the nation with a diverse portfolio of products, the company said.
Huntington, founded in 2000, invests in established lower middle market businesses with annual revenue of $10 million to $75 million in a broad range of industries, the firm said.
— Mike Allen
Pool Equipment Distributor Invests $10M in Expansion
Zodiac Pool Systems Inc., a maker and distributor of pool equipment, said it is expanding into a second building across the street from its headquarters in the industrial park area. The expansion is part of a $10 million investment in a number of areas including customer support, sales, supply chain and manufacturing and distribution, the company said.
The business hired about 85 new employees in engineering, lab technician, finance operations, and administration, and expects to add about 50 production workers shortly.
Also, the company announced current chief operating officer, Anthony Prudhomme, adds the responsibility of chief financial officer for Global Pool Care, and Troy Franzen becomes managing director–Americas, now reporting to Bruce Brooks, chief executive of Global Pool Care.
— Mike Allen
Novatel Marketing Modules For Radio Communication
Novatel Wireless Inc. says it will market two new modules for machine-to-machine radio communication during 2012. The Enabler HS 3001 uses a Qualcomm Inc. QSC 1110 microchip while model HS 3002 uses the QSC 6270 microchip. Novatel said third-party manufacturers may want to put its electronics to work in devices for security, telemetry, mobile health or vehicle location. The machine-to-machine modules could also be part of “smart” electrical metering systems or point-of-sale systems.
— Brad Graves
Hotel del Coronado Makes $8M in Interior Upgrades
Hotel del Coronado is undergoing a phased-in, $8 million renovation of 368 guest rooms and suites in its original Victorian building, including new contemporary furnishings, linens and technology. It is set to be completed in March.
A Jan. 5 statement from hotel operators said the historic property’s original 124-year-old structure will retain its period style. A makeover, designed by Looney & Associates, is “softly contemporary” with historical and regional references.
The design reflects the historical relevance of the property with Victorian-era motifs, used in fabrics, textures and geometric forms. New furnishings are constructed of natural materials including woven leather, wool, and woods such as teak and cerused walnut.
Rooms will include 42-inch flat-screen televisions, upholstered headboards, executive desks, high-speed Internet access and updated artwork selections “that reflect the area’s natural surroundings,” the statement said.
The Coronado hotel, with a total of 757 rooms, is now majority-owned by New York-based Blackstone Group, following a 2011 recapitalization of more than $500 million. Minority partners include Strategic Hotels & Resorts Inc. and KSL Resorts.
— Lou Hirsh