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EchoStar Buys Hughes Satellite; Acquires Satellite ‘Fraudband’ Service Rural Americans Loathe

EchoStar Corporation, which makes equipment and provides satellites for Dish Network, today announced it has agreed to buy Hughes Communications, Inc., for about $1.32 billion.

The deal means Dish, the second-largest U.S. satellite television provider, could be one step closer to providing a national data service to its customers.  Hughes operates a “broadband” satellite network, which almost entirely serves rural areas.

Much maligned by its customers, who consider the service’s high prices, low speeds and even lower usage caps “fraudband,” Hughes’ satellite service has been up for sale for some time.

The purchase “brings together the two premier providers of satellite communications services and delivers substantial value to our shareholders,” Pradman Kaul, chief executive officer of Hughes said in the statement.

Satellite television companies have increasingly been at a disadvantage because they cannot sell a true “triple-play” package of television, Internet, and phone service to customers who commonly bundle the three services together.  Instead, Dish and its larger competitor DirecTV have been relying on partnerships with telephone companies who provide phone and Internet service with a satellite television package.

The current generation of satellite broadband services are not well-rated by their customers.  Capacity shortages force providers to place strict limits on usage, which makes the service largely useless for high bandwidth applications — especially video.

The deal is expected to close later this year.

Watch HughesNet’s advertisement promising “blazing fast” speeds in contrast to an actual speed test completed by one of their customers, at a non-peak-usage time.  (2 minutes)

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