HughesNet Satellite Launch Successful

The successful launch of EchoStar XVII was announced in a Hughes Network Systems press release on July 6. The satellite representing Hughes’ generation 4 satellite Internet services was placed in geostationary transfer orbit by Arianespace, after a short trip via rocket ride aboard an Ariane 5 ECA launcher.

The lift off from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, was logged at 5:36 p.m. Eastern time (ET) on July 5, and geosynchronus transfer orbit was achieved at approximately 6:03 p.m. ET.   Read more

DirecTV Launches Satellite Broadband Bundles

DirecTV announced last week that it has added two new satellite broadband services to its bundles through new agreements with ViaSat and Hughes. Exede by ViaSat is commercially available today, while Hughes’ HughesNet Gen4 next-generation satellite broadband service is on track to be launched later this year.

Exede claims download speeds of 12 Mbps, but real-world availability and speed vary. Likewise, users report that Hughes’ forthcoming offering may top 20 Mbps.

DirecTV already offers triple-play service bundles with Verizon, AT&T, Century Link and other telco broadband providers. As a result, the new satellite bundles are being targeted at customers living in mostly unserved, rural areas. Read more

Verizon Announces HomeFusion 4G LTE Broadband

Verizon Wireless announced on March 6 the introduction of HomeFusion Broadband. According to Verizon Wireless, HomeFusion will provide an alternative service for high-speed in-home Internet access in hard-to-serve areas of the country using Verizon Wireless’ developing 4G LTE network.

In a press release, Tami Erwin, vice president and chief marketing officer for Verizon Wireless said,  “Customers want to connect more and more devices in their homes to the Internet, and HomeFusion Broadband gives them a simple, fast and effective way to bring the most advanced wireless connection from Verizon into their homes.” Read more

Satellite Broadband Providers Announce Next-Gen Offerings

The two largest U.S.-based satellite broadband providers made big announcements last week.

ViaSat, parent company to the WildBlue Internet service, announced that it has entered into a new five-year wholesale distribution agreement with the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative (NRTC) for next-generation satellite broadband service through its new ViaSat-1 satellite, which was launched last October.

According to the company, the 140 Gbps capacity ViaSat-1 satellite will provide more capacity than all other communication satellites over the United States combined. Read more

EchoStar to Acquire Hughes Communications

EchoStar has agreed to acquire Hughes Communications for $1.32 billion, or approximately $2 billion including the assumption of debt.

Under the terms of the transaction, which have been approved by the boards of directors of both companies, Hughes’s shareholders will receive $60.70 per share in cash. This is just shy of the stock’s Friday closing price of $61.78.

EchoStar, which makes television set-top boxes and satellites, was spun off from Dish Network Corp. three years ago. EchoStar also owns SlingMedia, maker of the Slingbox set-top box, which allows pay-TV subscribers to remotely access video content from their homes via the Internet.

Headquartered in Germantown, Md., Hughes provides broadband satellite services through its HughesNet unit. More than half a million North Americans consumers now subscribe to HughesNet for high-speed Internet, video conferencing and VoIP telephony. The company also provides managed network services for a number of large enterprises, including Wal-Mart, General Motors and Best Buy, as well as government agencies.

Hughes Communications is owned by private equity firm Apollo Management, and was first rumored to be on the block last month. It remains to be seeen how the sale might affect affect Hughes’ $58.7M ARRA stimulus award. Read more

Reuters: Hughes Communications for Sale

According to a report by news service Reuters, satellite provider Hughes Network Systems is on the block. Hughes has received a first round of bids and drawn interest mostly from other private equity firms and several satellite firms, four sources told Reuters last Thursday. A second round of bids is expected in early February, one of the sources said.

The sale of Hughes would allow private equity firm Apollo, which has been a major shareholder in the company since late 2004, to exit its investment. Apollo presently owns 57% of the company.

Headquartered in Germantown, Md., Hughes is one of the world’s largest providers of broadband satellite services and its systems support high-speed Internet access, video conferencing and VoIP telephony.  Read more