Hughes Network Systems launched a trio of products and services, including surround sound in its set-top boxes.
The company licensed TruSurround from SRS Labs Inc. and will include the surround sound feature in Hughes' Director Pack and Executive Director Pack services.
Using TruSurround in its DirecTV set-top boxes allows virtual surround sound through the two speakers of any stereo TV set, SRS says.
Observers say the development will compel the cable industry to produce an enhancement of its own to stay competitive.
Separately, Hughes and DirecTV Inc. will be jointly marketing DirecWay, a satellite-based broadband service, says parent company Hughes Electronics Corp. The service lets DirecTV add high-speed satellite Internet service to its digital entertainment services via one dish.
DirecWay will be available through independent satellite dealers and retailers this year for an estimated $59.99 to $69.99 a month.
Hughes says adding DirecWay to DirecTV means the service will be marketed to a base of more than 45 million subscribers. Hughes' other DirecWay partners include America Online, EarthLink, Pegasus, NRTC and Juno.
Finally, Hughes launched its Teleworker Service by DirecWay, a package that uses IP connectivity and enhanced networking capabilities to allow broadband for teleworkers using the DirecWay satellite system. The package is available now, Hughes says.