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Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, also known as Gitmo, is a US military base located on 45 square miles of scrubby flat coastal land on the north end of Cuba. Despite being the oldest overseas US Naval Base, housing roughly 14,000 people, it is an austere environment isolated from the rest of the island.
When the base’s satellite Internet service provider went out of business unexpectedly, up to 40% of Gitmo’s population – the civilian contractors working for the military – were at risk of being completely cut off from the civilized world. With no terrestrial broadband infrastructure, there would be no public or private Internet access.
Just 2 weeks before service was scheduled to end, Hughes received a call for help. The Hughes team quickly identified one of its long-time resellers, Houston Media Systems (HMS), as the ideal candidate to help deliver HughesNet service to Cuba.
“Getting the satellite connectivity to Cuba wasn’t the issue. Getting regulatory approval from Cuba was the issue. We had never delivered service to that country before,” explained Jerry Laatsch, Western Regional Channel Manager for Hughes. “We had to engage Legal, the Department of State, and all the proper authorities before we could proceed. Having better relationships with Cuba helped things progress smoothly.”
Together, Hughes and HMS worked quickly to get all of the paperwork approved within a compressed period of time. The ultimate goal was to minimize the time the base’s civilian population had to go without service. Once Hughes was authorized to sell service into Cuba, the next challenge involved logistics: getting the equipment delivered in a short period of time. That too proved doable for HMS, making it possible to begin installing and selling HughesNet service.
According to Mel Berry, owner of HMS, with the paperwork complete and logistics solved, “We are now able to offer HughesNet service beyond Gitmo and are signing up military personnel, embassies, and Cuban citizens.”
HMS is also able to provide HN and HX Systems to enterprises and governments who wish to operate their own satellite broadband services in Cuba. Optimized for broadband IP services, the Hughes systems support a wide variety of applications, from high-speed Internet/Intranet, to videoconferencing and voice (VoIP).
Now with the Cuban market open for business, thousands of people living and working across the island are able to stay in touch, be more productive, download movies and music, surf the Web, and feel more connected to the world than ever before.
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