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Studies show that large populations in North America are still unserved or underserved by terrestrial broadband Internet access—representing a market of over 15 million households and small businesses. As more and more of society depends on the Web, it becomes ever more urgent that this disparity or so-called “digital divide” be closed. Satellite Internet access technology is ideal, reaching people no matter where they choose to live or work. With the launch of the EchoStar® XIX/JUPITER 2 high-throughput satellite, Hughes is expecting to grow its successful HughesNet® service by adding more than 1 million new subscribers, starting in the first quarter of 2017.
"EchoStar® XIX/JUPITER 2 is further evidence of EchoStar and Hughes leadership in designing and operating High-Throughout Ka-band satellites,” said Dave Zatloukal, Hughes senior vice president, products and services. “With significantly more capacity than prior HTS satellites, it will enable us to deliver more speed and more choices to meet the ever-growing demands of our consumer subscriber base.”
Designed and built for Hughes by Space Systems Loral (SSL), EchoStar XIX was poised for launch in late December 2016 from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V launch vehicle. For the last year-and-a-half, Hughes has been planning and developing the infrastructure to deliver services over the EchoStar XIX/JUPITER 2 satellite.
Planning has involved identifying locations for the 22 gateways between Canada, the US and Mexico, and the data centers. With locations secured, gateway deployment efforts began, including constructing the large RF ground stations that communicate with the satellite and implementing the baseband systems at the data centers. All of these elements also required high capacity connectivity to the Internet and the Hughes Network Management Center in Germantown MD. With the infrastructure in place, Hughes was able to focus on the backend systems that are required to deliver service excellence – namely, customer care, ordering and billing, installation, and maintenance support.
With each satellite launch there are fixed costs associated with the necessary infrastructure, but as a multi-satellite operator, Hughes no longer has to start from scratch.
“At our Network Management Center, the people who will support our new HughesNet subscribers are the same people who have been supporting our current subscribers—over 1 million of them,” Zatloukal said. “Hughes is now in a position to incrementally add resources to meet anticipated demand, be it capital or human resources. This ability to scale operations—between our customer support, development and engineering teams—is what drives efficiency and profitability.”
“The first emotion with any launch is excitement, once we know the satellite is up and on its way to its final orbital position. The second reaction is great anticipation as we start to look forward to the turnover from SSL to Hughes engineering and operations,” Zatloukal said. “Once it’s turned over, there’s a tremendous amount of work that has to be done by Hughes engineering, facilities, and operations teams.”
That’s because there is only so much testing that can be done before any launch. Hence, following each successful launch, an intense period of testing and certification begins to validate that all of the Hughes systems are working perfectly before going to market. This is a company-wide effort that in the case of the EchoStar XIX/JUPITER 2 will stretch into March 2017. Once complete, EchoStar XIX/JUPITER 2 will join EchoStar XVII and SPACEWAY® 3 in powering the continued growth of HughesNet—America’s #1 choice for satellite Internet.