RUS Issues Broadband Stimulus Awards to Hughes, ViaSat, EchoStar, Spacenet

[Satellite TODAY 08-20-10] Hughes Network Systems has been awarded $58.7 million as the only national provider of high-speed satellite Internet service under The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the company announced Aug. 19.
    The award, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS), will see Hughes provide high-speed Internet infrastructure to help bridge the technological divide in unserved and underserved rural communities and support improvements in education, healthcare, and public safety. The company said it would apply the award to accelerate the take-up by eligible new HughesNet subscribers.
    Separately, ViaSat subsidiary WildBlue Communications was awarded about $19.5 million in grant funding by the RUS to connect unserved, rural homes and businesses in the West and Midwest regions of the United States.
        WildBlue said it submitted a joint-proposal with co-applicants DirectTV and Dish Network to the RUS requesting a grant to activate new subscribers in 20 western and midwestern states that have no access to broadband services offered by terrestrial carriers. Subscribers covered by the grant would receive service from one of WildBlue’s three current satellites — Anik-F2, WildBlue-1, and AMC-15 — and starting in mid 2011 from the ViaSat-1 satellite. WildBlue’s award is conditional on reaching agreement on terms and conditions with the RUS.
    Other RUS regional broadband stimulus grant winners were EchoStar, which received approximately $14.2 million to provide satellite services in the East and Midwest, and Spacenet, which received $7.5 million to provide services in Alaska and Hawaii.
    Raymond James analyst Chris Quilty said Hughes’ award is a big win for the Maryland-based company. “Amongst the four companies granted satellite broadband awards, Hughes was the walkaway winner capturing $59 million — three times more than the next-largest awardee, ViaSat. Why the disparity? Hughes currently has a significant performance advantage over its competitors due to the company’s Spaceway-3 satellite’s higher data rates and capacity.”

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