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EchoStar goes 2-way with Hughes acquisition

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EchoStar is spending around $2bn to buy up Hughes Communications, adding fixed communications to the mobile acquisitions made by its subsidiary Dish Networks earlier this month.

Dish Networks announced its plan to buy DBSD North America, the company formerly known as ICO, earlier this month; DBSD was bankrupt, but still worth $1bn, having accrued significant assets while trying to set up a satellite phone service. Now EchoStar will be buying Hughes Communications, adding fixed internet access to the range of services the company will be able to provide, at a cost of around $2bn.

Hughes Communications has around 500,000 customers around the world, with US customers getting access through its own Spaceway 3 satellite. In Europe Hughes has signed up to resell capacity on Avanti's latest bird, Hylas-1, but it is America that EchoStar is interested in.

Both transactions still require regulatory approval, but assuming that happens, then EchoStar will be able to bundle fixed and mobile broadband, as well as broadcast TV, to anywhere in the USA with only the smallest of latencies. But more interestingly, the company might decide to follow the path so effectively cleared by LightSquared.

LightSquared has convinced the Federal Communications Commission to change the rules on satellite radio spectrum, removing the obligation for every device to be satellite-capable, making the spectrum a lot more valuable. That's great for LightSquared, but it is also good for anyone else with satellite frequencies to play with, including EchoStar, as mapped out at Daily Wireless. ®

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