People wanting premium TV services have often had to choose between cable and satellite. Now Dish Network thinks that choice should apply in the broadband market as well.
The company is said to be planning to extend its existing satellite broadband service nationwide. At the moment it links up with another firm, ViaSat, to provide service in a few areas. The plan now is to run a national network using a satellite from the fleet that provides its TV services.
The satellite concerned, EchoStar 17, launched in July and is currently being tested for broadband services. Operator Echostar used to own Dish Network but the two companies formally split in 2008, though still partner to provide the TV service.
In theory the satellite can support 15 Mbps download speeds, though it appears the new service will begin with 5 Mbps packages to allow more customers. The upload speeds aren’t confirmed: the existing ViaSat package offers 12 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload, so at the same ratio you’d expect a little over 1Mbps upload. That should be enough for most consumer use.
There should be capacity for around two million new customers. For cable that might not be a worthwhile proposition given the difficulty of finding two million people who don’t currently have broadband but live close enough together to make cabling financially viable.
With satellite those customers can be anywhere in the country, with people in rural areas without cable or DSL the most likely buyers. Indeed Dish Network can start by targeting its existing TV customers.
Dish also has spare wireless capacity from its satellite service, subject to approval from the Federal Communications Commission, it may be able to offer a combined TV, broadband, mobile internet and cellphone package.