HughesNet on Aug. 22, 2012 finally released retail pricing and packaging for its new “Gen 4” satellite broadband services. The three offers, as some had predicted, will allow HughesNet to claim bragging rights in terms of speed, compared to Exede, the ViaSat (News - Alert) service that HughesNet competes with.
The fastest service, at 15 Mbps downstream, tops Exede’s fastest service by three Mbps. Of course, with satellite services there always is a trade off. Since transponder capacity is limited, selling faster access packages reduces the theoretical total number of subscriptions that can be sold.
So HughesNet has balanced its offers. The two other packages offer 10 Mbps downstream, with either 1 Mbps or 2 Mbps in the upstream.
The 10/1 plan apparently will be priced at $59.99, but is available at a promotional rate of $49.99. The 10/2 plan is priced at $79.99 while the 15/2 plan costs $99.99 a month. There is a data cap of 20 gigabytes for the 10/1 plan, 30 gigabytes for the 10/2 plan and 40 gigabytes for the 15/2 plan.
The new offers now mean that a rural U.S. customer, virtually anywhere in the continental United States, will be able to buy either 10 Mbps or 15 Mbps broadband access service, without waiting, from a network that already is built.
Exede, the comparable service from ViaSat, sells its top-end service at 12 Mbps. In principle, that means an overwhelming number of the five percent or six percent of U.S. homes that cannot buy broadband access from a fixed network provider at speeds of at least 4 Mbps now can buy 12 Mbps or 15 Mbps service from one or two satellite providers.
For any number of reasons there might be some specific locations within the continental United States that cannot receive the highest power from both providers.
There might be some areas either service provider might not cover, or be able to reach, as in the odd circumstance of a house snuggled up hard against a steep mountain that blocks view of the Exede or HughesNet satellites. There are likely any number of places that will not generally be able to receive the top advertised speeds, for reasons of signal strength.
Still, for the perhaps 200,000 most isolated U.S. locations the Federal Communications Commission says would cost about $50,000 per location in subsidies, plus millions of other locations whose construction cost is likely to be high enough never to offer a payback, satellite services now will provide a reasonable solution, immediately.
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Edited by Brooke Neuman