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Hughes: Year in Review

By Pradman Kaul, President, Hughes
SatMagazine, December 2014

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I am pleased to report that Hughes had a strong 2014, with growing revenues and healthy margins in our businesses and markets all over the world. A landmark event that we’re very proud of is crossing the one million mark of active users for our HughesNet® high- speed satellite Internet service in North America.

In the enterprise arena, our portfolio of HughesON™ Managed Network Solutions has been well received by the market, as evidenced by major wins and expansions, such as Delhaize (Food Lion), Springleaf Financial, and GTECH, the U.S.’s largest lottery provider, which extended its service agreement with us through September 2022, including space segment, hub operations, and maintenance for over 100,000 sites. We also expanded the scope of numerous contracts within our franchise-oriented markets, one of the largest being with Yum! brands (KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut). On the technology front, we introduced the award winning HR4400 Branch Gateway, a single cost-effective device that combines strong security, routing, and Hughes’ unique Active Technologies for multi-branch organizations.

On the international front, our service companies in Brazil, India, and Europe had a great year.

Our Brazilian subsidiary signed a contract extension with Telemar for the provision of broadband services for approximately 3,200 sites, while our Indian subsidiary continued to expand its rural bank and ATM network, where we now have over 10,000 sites in service. This is a major project that connects rural locations to the national banking network, whereas in the past, residents had to travel to the nearest city with a branch bank to conduct banking transactions. In addition, Hughes India has more than 50,000 VSAT sites in operation.

Hughes Europe was selected by Smiggle for a comprehensive HughesON Managed Network Solution that includes wireless backup to support the Australian retailer’s U.K. Launch. In the Middle East, we won a $69 million contract for a global foreign ministry satellite network spanning six continents and 100 countries. In Colombia, we were selected by Hispasat and Anditel to provide high-speed Internet services to rural schools and communities under the Vive Digital program.

In the aeronautical world, Hughes partnered with Global Eagle Entertainment to provide a complete satellite broadband communications solution that underpins their inflight systems, including hub service and leased space segment. Beyond services in the U.S., Europe, and Russia, this year the business was expanded into the Asia Pacific region with Thaicom Public Company Limited (Thaicom), a leading satellite communications provider, now supporting in-flight services to airlines in Thailand and Southeast Asia.

One of our strategic objectives over the past few years has been to offer our customers the same technology platform all over the world, whether the operation is over Ka-, Ku- or C-band satellites. This means that the ground system control and management infrastructure and customer terminals are based on the same core technology building blocks, offering significant R&D advantages and efficiencies and the ability to converge legacy platforms and new applications. Witness our JUPITER™ high-throughput technology. Employing a novel System on a Chip (SoC) and numerous other advancements—including an enhanced air interface and wideband carriers that can transmit over 1Gbps—JUPITER’s modular design is the ideal, future-proof platform for operators to gain technology and cost advantages on today’s conventional satellites and be well positioned for migration to next-generation High Throughput Satellites (HTS). R&D advantages and efficiencies and the ability to converge legacy platforms and new applications. Witness our JUPITER™ high-throughput technology. Employing a novel System on a Chip (SoC) and numerous other advancements—including an enhanced air interface and wideband carriers that can transmit over 1Gbps—JUPITER’s modular design is the ideal, future-proof platform for operators to gain technology and cost advantages on today’s conventional satellites and be well positioned for migration to next-generation High Throughput Satellites (HTS).

In addition to powering our HughesNet service in North America, the JUPITER platform has now been selected by operators in Latin America, Russia, Canada, Mexico, Malaysia, and the Middle East. This year, we captured some exciting new projects. For example, in Russia, we signed contracts to supply the gateway infrastructure for the RSCC AM5 Ka-band satellite. This is a first-of-its-kind network, delivering affordable satellite broadband services for the eastern part of Russia, and puts us in good position for future planned expansions across the entire country.

In Turkey, we recently were awarded a contract by Turksat for a JUPITER ground system to operate over that country’s new Ka-band satellite. We also won a contract in Mexico to deploy a JUPITER system in Ku-band to provide broadband connectivity for more than 5,000 schools and community centers.

Clearly, the industry is recognizing the value in our strategy—I’m delighted to report that we were awarded the 2014 Technology Innovation of the Year at VSAT 2014 for the JUPITER System.

Looking ahead, we are on track for the launch in the first half of 2016 of our next-generation HTS, JUPITER 2/EchoStar XIX. With more than 150Gbps throughput, this new Ka-band satellite will have 50 percent greater capacity than JUPITER 1/EchoStar XVII. Building on the success of EchoStar XVII, the new satellite is being designed with an advanced architecture possessing more than 120 spot beams, powering expansion of high-quality HughesNet Gen4 Internet services across the U.S. and major parts of Canada and Central America.

Xplornet Communications, Canada’s largest rural broadband provider, has committed to a lifetime lease for all of the Canadian satellite broadband capacity on JUPITER 2/EchoStar XIX, including the gateways necessary to support the service.

All in all, 2014 validated why I am extremely bullish about the continued growth of all our business segments, as our continuing investments in new technology and services yield ever higher speeds, lower cost per bit and more applications and benefits for our customers.

Leadership in both technology and service delivery sets Hughes apart and is the key to our success—this is how I see the future.