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EchoStar broadband bird prepares to fly

Tue, 07/03/2012 - 1:53pm
Brian Santo

EchoStar is set to launch a satellite on Thursday that it will use to provide significantly faster broadband service than what it now provides.

The company is calling the new service Gen4.

The company’s current satellite-based broadband offered residential subscribers three tiers of service: 1 Mbps, 1.5 Mbps and 2 Mbps at prices ranging from $60 a month to $110 a month. Plans targeted at businesses topped out at 5 Mbps.

EchoStar has provided few details on what the new satellite might be capable of. Last January, when the company announced the new, faster service, it said “customers will gain a ten-fold increase in network capacity and extensive nationwide coverage.”

The EchoStar XVII satellite is scheduled to be lofted from the Guiana Space Center European Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. EchoStar XVII weighs more than 7,000 pounds, was assembled using more than 50,000 screws and has a wingspan of 130 feet when fully deployed.

As a practical matter, the company will need several months of operational tests before being able to commercialize any services enabled by the satellite.

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