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Hughes Network Systems, LLC
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In this issue, we speak with Hughes Executive Vice President and General Manager, North America, Paul Gaske about the many ways that Hughes technologies and services support education and training initiatives around the globe – in schools, businesses and governments.
Q: Can you talk to us about the importance of the education market to Hughes and its business strategy?
A: Looking back, satellite communications were initially used for video services and also to reach schools with educational programs and materials. Over the years, we’ve been primarily focused on distance learning. Our solutions tend to reach rural communities and the underserved. Or, in the case of corporations, serve as a consistent platform across numerous locations to provide training. For our early very small aperture terminals, or VSATs, it was one of our first applications. So, as education systems and companies have expanded their needs for distance learning and e-learning, we’ve added products and capabilities.
Q: What particular growth areas or opportunities do you see?
A: In this space, the Hughes BreakroomTV ™ is one of the biggest opportunities. During their shifts, employees at large retailers or major service companies have breaks and they want to relax, maybe get the news. But that break time is also an opportunity for the employer to share information or educate employees about their business or products. We launched the new capability with Kohl’s and it’s getting a lot of traction in the market. As employees become more video literate and less dependent on text-based materials, they will be interested in or looking for training in a video format. This will be an exciting application for these companies.
Q: Looking to the future, how do you see the next generation of high-throughput satellite systems such as EchoStar® XIX, with the JUPITER™ System, or the new partnership with OneWeb, changing or expanding this market?
A: The EchoStar XIX is a massive satellite that will cover all of North America and some markets in Central America. Its capability is outstanding and it will allow us to continue to expand our rapidly growing HughesNet® business. We’re looking forward to launching it late next year. All the tests have gone well so far and the program looks like it’s going to be a big success for us.
As for OneWeb, we’re really excited to be a part of this amazing new satellite system. We’re an investor, along with a number of well-known companies bringing the LEO system, or Low Earth Orbiting system, into being. We see great opportunities for our markets and to connect the underserved parts of the world. OneWeb can provide low-latency, high-speed bandwidth over 100% of the globe. At the same time, our JUPITER technology, which is geostationary satellite technology, provides tremendous amounts of bandwidth in certain locations. By offering the two technologies, OneWeb’s LEO and EchoStar XIX GEO, we’ll have the capability to service all of our key markets with unique and exciting products.
Executives in India can now choose from newly minted online training opportunities designed to advance their knowledge and careers while they continue to work. Three programs were recently launched, two by the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) and one by XLRI Jamshedpur, delivered over the unique Hughes Interactive Onsite Learning Platform from Hughes Global Education India Limited (HGEIL).
First offered in April 2015, the IIM Rohtak program is designed for experienced executives, entrepreneurs and professionals, looking to enhance managerial knowledge and skills. Executives may choose either a two-year Post Graduate Diploma or a one-year Post Graduate Certificate in a specific subject area. In June, IIM Calcutta launched its program which equips managers and professionals with the skills and perspectives required to lead their organizations in liberalized and deregulated business environments. Also launched in June, the XLRI Jamshedpur program is for working executives seeking a Postgraduate Certificate in Human Resource Management (PGCHRM) and Postgraduate Certificate in Business Management (PGCBM).
Each program is structured to minimize disruption in the workplace while ensuring the high standards and rigor expected by these respected institutes. The Hughes platform provides live, interactive capabilities where participants in any part of the country can discuss questions directly with faculty members, without geographical constraints.
Prof. P Rameshan, Director, IIM Rohtak said, “With the launch of our first Interactive Distance Learning Program, the ePGDM, we have taken another significant step towards our goal of being a global learning center. The Hughes Interactive Onsite platform gives us the technological support to reach students at far-off locations enabling them to benefit from the academic prowess of IIM Rohtak.” In a short span of time, the IIM has become a major management learning center in India, with an excellent corporate relations program and innovative initiatives, especially supporting women.
Of the XLRI Jamshedpur program, Prof. Ashis K Pani, Associate Dean of the VIL program said, “We are happy to see a large number of candidates taking advantage of this advanced online learning technology. Candidates all across the country can now benefit from industry-recognized certification coming from a renowned institute like XLRI.”
To date, more than 25,000 students have utilized the Hughes Interactive Onsite Learning platform in 100 classrooms in 50 cities spread across the country, participating in courses by leading academic partner institutes to improve their skills and move up the career ladder within their organizations.
Sequoyah Schools is a gleaming, modern institution for grades K-12, that has become a leader nationwide for how technologies can be deployed to support education. Throughout its campus in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, Sequoyah Schools is utilizing HughesOn™ Digital Media Solutions, with 85 digital screens networked throughout the facility that dynamically deliver content at locations and in ways that appeal to students. The robust digital signage platform provides a scalable and reliable infrastructure for delivering educational and training materials, live TV, video-on-demand, news, and localized information. In each classroom, teachers access videos and lesson libraries to support the curricula.
“We installed the digital signage to provide educational materials in classrooms, but also as a mechanism for the school to produce media and distribute it to classrooms,” said Alan Hefner, Cherokee Nation’s multimedia lead within its IT department.
Content can be shown on all screens simultaneously, or programmed by classroom or individual location (such as a cafeteria or teachers' lounge). For example, the digital screens are ideal for the live streaming of speeches by Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker. With the ability to display closed captioning, information can reach all audiences, including the hearing impaired.
The digital screens also have an important role in emergency preparedness. Given the regular occurrence of tornadoes in the region, screens can be configured to display live weather updates and alerts.
“Hughes digital signage helps keep our students informed, engaged and, most importantly, safe,” said Hefner.
Perhaps most important, the school has been proactive in educating students on using the technology and create content. Students have access to video cameras, editing software and equipment, as well as a green screen and taping studio. They can create videos, edit them, use the Hughes platform to distribute them throughout the campus buildings and classrooms, log the files into an archived library and make them available on-demand. Often, students videotape school events, game scores and highlights, produce video journals and stories, and even create interactive polls to facilitate voting (e.g., homecoming king or queen, class president, etc.).
These resources enable students to gain hands-on experience, keep digital content relevant and current, and increase community engagement. The hope is that by building such skills, students will also be better prepared for the job market after graduation or college.
With more than 320,000 citizens, over 9,000 employees and a variety of tribal businesses in the gaming, hospitality, information technology, personnel services, distribution, manufacturing, telecommunications, environmental services and security and defense industries, Cherokee Nation’s economic impact in Oklahoma is more than $1.5 billion annually, according to its website. It is one of the largest employers in northeastern Oklahoma. After seeing the many ways that digital signage helped keep students and school staff informed and engaged, Cherokee Nation expanded the application of HughesOn Digital Media Solutions throughout the tribe’s operations. Hughes digital signage now appears at the Cherokee Nation government headquarters, as well as in all of its motor vehicle tagging offices, veteran affairs locations, and healthcare sites.
One important expansion strategy has been Cherokee Nation’s launch of an improved customer registration system at the motor vehicle tag office, which relies on digital signage. Initially, they wanted a numbered registration system (i.e., take a number to be served). Their challenge had been people congregating by the service desk area, slowing down the clerks who were working and making it difficult to citizens efficiently check-in. The IT team considered a solution that would enable citizens to check-in via kiosk iPads®, then have the digital signage flash each name on the screen, letting them know when they would be served. After the concept was prototyped and approved, the team built a custom application fully integrated with the Hughes platform and the digital signage network. Today, citizens sign in, see their name in the queue, know how long their wait will be, see when it’s their turn and note which clerk to report to. The new registration system has improved customer service, workflow, and efficiency.
“We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without the Hughes platform,” Hefner said, noting how easily it can be adapted using HTML. “It’s a great foundation on which to build and implement new applications, like kiosks and registration systems.”
Whether in the Sequoyah Schools or as an essential part of its government infrastructure, Cherokee Nation has found multiple ways to use HughesOn Digital Media Solutions to educate, inform and protect citizens young and old.
On June 25, 2015, Hughes announced its participation in a major technology and marketing partnership with OneWebTM to bring affordable broadband service to millions of households, schools and organizations worldwide.
Hughes joins seven other global corporations in OneWeb’s ground-breaking communications initiative, including Qualcomm Incorporated, Virgin Group, Airbus Group, Bharti Enterprises, The Coca-Cola Company, Grupo Salinas, and Intelsat. OneWeb’s system will deploy hundreds of Low Earth Orbiting (LEO) satellites to enable delivery of high-quality, low-latency broadband services, both fixed and mobile, as a combined offering with cellular networks.
“OneWeb is a game-changing, nextgeneration satellite system,” said Pradman Kaul, president of Hughes. “We have been looking at every detail and are excited to participate in the ground system design, development and production. In addition, we will employ the OneWeb network to deliver services to our global base of customers and distribution partners.”
Along with financial investment by its parent company, EchoStar, Hughes will play a particularly important role by developing the ground system, including gateways and terminals. OneWeb’s network of LEOs will be complementary to the Hughes high-throughput JUPITER™ System which operates over geostationary satellites and powers its market-leading HughesNet® high-speed satellite Internet service—now with over 1 million subscribers in North America. Through its service businesses in the U.S., Europe, Brazil and India, and its worldwide base of customers and distribution partners, Hughes will help accelerate the adoption of satellite broadband for people and businesses unserved and underserved by terrestrial services on every continent.
“The dream of fully bridging the digital divide is on track to be a reality in 2019,” said Greg Wyler, founder of OneWeb. “Together with our committed and visionary founding shareholders we have the key elements in place; regulatory, technology, launches, satellites, as well as commercial operators in over 50 countries and territories. We are committed to solving one of the world’s biggest problems—enabling affordable broadband Internet access for everyone. We are excited about the next phase, which will involve working with countries, telecom operators and aid organizations to help them realize their goals of open and ubiquitous access.”
Total Wine & More learned early on that good marketing shouldn’t try to “outsmart” consumers in an effort to get them to buy. Instead, Total Wine & More educates their customers about their many product choices, which in turn helps to earn their loyalty. That is why the nation’s largest independent retailer of wine, beer, and spirits works so hard to give customers a unique shopping and educational experience in its stores across the country. The retailer knows that its digitally-savvy customers want access to product information, reviews, and deals whether they are online or in the store. Total Wine & More also understands educational tools can help the wine, spirit or beer novice feel less intimidated while shopping—an essential element to growing the customer base.
To that end, Total Wine & More deployed the Hughes Retail Signage Solution as part of an ambitious customer engagement strategy to WOW customers through a wide range of digital touchpoints. Hughes Retail Signage is a fully managed digital signage solution—including hardware, network, and support—that enables retailers like Total Wine & More to create a unique customer experience, increase sales, and boost brand loyalty. Retailers can deliver up-to-the-minute communications to any number of locations simultaneously. And the digital screens are centrally managed via an easy-to-use Web interface, enabling companies to schedule or quickly change content by time of day, location, and customer demographics, as well as dynamically by what is being purchased.
The Total Wine & More strategy includes innovations such as wine pairing apps for iPhones, Android, and iPad devices. Customers use iPads, mounted as interactive digital kiosks and placed throughout the aisles, to select menu item details and receive recommendations on which wines will best complement a particular meal. Total Wine & More’s Facebook page provides customers with contests, real-time coupons, and other social engagements. The popular Total Wine & More loyalty program app uses QR code-driven (quick response code) mobile videos, on line ordering for in-store pickup, and photo booths where customers can record and share details about their in-store experiences.
“Our goal is to deliver video content that is informative and educational as well as entertaining,” said Rob Hill, new programs manager at Total Wine & More. “It is part of the total customer experience as they shop our store. Customers will feel better informed and more confident about selecting the appropriate wine, spirit or style of beer. That, in turn, keeps the customer coming back for more.”
Many stores also have classrooms equipped with Hughes digital signage screens where customers learn how to select and enjoy products. The classroom doubles as an employee training facility, ensuring that Total Wine & More employees are knowledgeable and credible experts in their own right. Most stores also have wine-tasting areas where digital signage delivers wine-focused content. Hughes digital screens are mounted in the “Brewery District,” Total Wine & More’s beer section where digital content combined with a beer tasting station help customers make more informed decisions over their choice of brew.
With more than 8,000 wines, 2,500 popular and craft beers and 3,000 different spirits from around the world, Hughes Retail Signage is proving to be a key education tool for Total Wine & More’s suppliers, Hill said. “We want to have content for all the product lines we carry. Some content comes from our producers in California, Europe and other parts of the world. Craft breweries, in particular, are prolific creators of video content, which we love to share with our customers. Craft distilleries are starting to create content as well to tell their stories. It’s all about engaging the customer with entertaining knowledge.”
Total Wine & More was founded by two brothers, Robert and David Trone, on three principles: service, selection, and price. The digital content network is a key extension of the service credo. “We provide the best service in the store, or online,” said John Jordan, chief customer officer at the company. “And we have an incredibly well-trained staff and customer care department. Hughes technology adds to the educational element of the store so customers can trust they are making the right purchasing decisions.”
As high-speed Internet service becomes more ubiquitous in American households, some might be surprised to learn that a “digital divide” exists in many of our schools. According to a 2014 blog post from Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler, “Forty-one percent of America’s rural schools couldn’t get a high-speed connection if they tried”—where a high-speed connection is defined as offering download speeds of 10 Mbps or higher. While Chairman Wheeler may have been correct to note that these schools don’t have adequate connectivity, he was incorrect to conclude that they cannot get it. The fact is high-quality satellite Internet is available virtually everywhere, nationwide, and at affordable prices—no matter where you live, work, or go to school.
As a result, the digital divide is a misnomer; what exists today is a terrestrial digital divide, due to economics. In lower population density areas, the business case for terrestrial providers to deploy broadband technologies, be it fiber, cable or DSL, is simply not justified.
To help schools nationwide—particularly those in terrestrial digital divide areas—President Obama announced the ConnectED initiative in June 2013; a program designed to provide next-generation broadband and high-speed wireless connectivity to transform classrooms for 99% of U.S. students by 2017. Also benefiting schools and libraries is the E-rate program administered by the FCC, which enables them to gain satellite solutions at subsidized costs. Authorized E-rate vendors, such as Hughes, can offer satellite solutions like HughesNet® Gen4 Internet service to deliver high-speed broadband connectivity to support a single school or multiple locations within a school system.
“Our mission is to get the word out that rural schools do, in fact, have access to high-speed connectivity—namely satellite broadband,” said Tony Bardo, assistant vice president of Government Solutions. “Hughes satellite broadband coverage is available nationwide and with a choice of budget-friendly plans; programs like ConnectED and E-rate can further help any administration to make the right decision of bringing our children the high levels of Internet access they need to succeed in the 21st Century economy.”
Consider the case of a small, 100-year-old school district in northwest Montana with a single classroom school for grades K-8 and close to 90% of its students coming from low-income families. The school had no access to terrestrial broadband and even their existing Wi-Fi had to be limited to staff use only. After assessing alternatives, Hughes was contacted and soon installed a powerful solution consisting of a small antenna on the school’s roof and an indoor router, that now delivers three times or higher Internet access speeds than before. And because Hughes is an authorized E-rate vendor, they were also able to slash their Internet costs by 20%. Now, with higher speeds and bandwidth, multiple students can work online simultaneously accessing new Cloud-based educational software to support their curricula. Down the road, it’s likely the students will connect to online courses, video lessons, or even to virtual classrooms to access subjects not available in their community.
This example and others illustrate that high-quality satellite connectivity is available to rural schools at a range of affordable price points, putting an end to the misnomer of a digital divide for any school, in any location. For local governments and school administrators, now is the time to seize the opportunities made possible by the White House’s ConnectEd initiative and the FCC’s E-rate program, and to transform all schools so they can readily deliver all of our children a 21st Century education.
On July 7th at the annual American Business Awards competition, Hughes was named winner of the prestigious Gold “Stevie®” Award in 2015 for Corporate Social Responsibility Program of the Year. A panel of 200 executives selected Hughes as the gold winner among companies with up to 2,500 employees for its partnership with the National 4-H Council to promote Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education and careers to youth across the U.S. through a series of events and competitions.
The Hughes/4-H partnership began in 2014, aimed at introducing more American youth to hands-on, communitybased STEM learning. Together, they have conducted several national programs to spark interest in STEM, including the National Youth Science Day (NYSD), the world’s largest youth-led science experiment.
“The most gratifying aspect of winning this award is that it recognizes the importance of promoting STEM education and careers among today’s youth,” said Mike Cook, senior vice president at Hughes. “STEM proficiency goes right to the heart of the country’s economic future.”
“We are proud of the 4-H partnership with Hughes and excited about the impact of our STEM programs on America’s future innovators and leaders,” said Jennifer Sirangelo, president and CEO, National 4-H Council.
The American Business Awards are nicknamed the “Stevies” for the Greek word meaning “crowned.” This year’s competition attracted more than 3,300 nominations across all categories.
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