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April 24, 2009

WildBlue to Showcase 18 Mbps Satellite-to-Home Service



By Gary Kim, Contributing Editor


Some, perhaps most observers think satellite-to-home broadband will not measure up to what is possible using terrestrial WiMAX (News - Alert) or fiber-enhanced cable or telco connections. But WildBlue Communications Inc. will show a live demonstration of 18 Mbps service, about 12 times faster than now offered.

 
The demonstration, part of an effort to showcase what satellite-delivered broadband can provide for rural residents, will be held at the Colorado State Capitol on April 29, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
 
WildBlue already serves about 400,000 rural U.S. customers, including 11,000 in Colorado.
 
HughesNet, the other major provider of satellite-to-home services, is available throughout the continental United States and currently serves over 400,000 consumers and small businesses in more than 26,000 zip codes underserved by cable and digital subscriber line services, the company says.
 
In principle, HughesNet already has the ability to use their latest generation of satellites to provide bandwidth at such speeds. The trade-off is “speed” for “number of subscribers.” Basically, any satellite transponder has fixed capacity, so that capacity can be focused to a smaller number of users who get higher bandwidth, or to a larger number of subscribers who receive less bandwidth.
 
WildBlue uses the DOCSIS 3.0 format for broadband Internet access, the same technique used by cable operators to provide higher speeds. 
 
Offering DOCSIS 3.0 at higher speeds using existing transponders would be a strain, should any significant number of consumers actually sign up for the higher speeds DOCSIS 3.0 offers.
 
WildBlue has recently leased additional capacity from EchoStar Satellite (News - Alert) Services, a division of EchoStar Corporation. But
WildBlue has said the additional capacity will be available in the second half of 2009, delivering the “same speeds and quality of service enjoyed by current WildBlue customers.”
 
“New customers who are provisioned on the new capacity from EchoStar will have the same WildBlue package options available to them and use the same equipment as current WildBlue customers,” WildBlue has said. Perhaps it has rethought how the additional capacity can be used. Most likely, it wishes to show that 18 Mbps service is possible, and can be provided once the new satellite is launched.
 

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Gary Kim (News - Alert) is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Gary’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Michael Dinan


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