HughesNet successfully launched a brand-new communications satellite at the end of December 2016. The satellite, named EchoStar 19, is designed to deliver high-speed broadband connections to previously underserved rural areas and passenger jets. The state-of-the-art satellite will utilize a geosynchronous orbit and JUPITER System technology to deliver next-generation levels of satellite internet service. These new service improvements are part of HughesNet’s transition into, what they are calling, their Gen5 services.
While some people may think satellites are being launched into space every day, it’s actually a much rarer occurrence. The launch of EchoStar 19 will bring significant improvements to HughesNet’s service offerings allowing them to provide internet speeds of up to 200 Mbps across most of the United States, Canada and parts of Central America.
EchoStar 19 was sent into orbit using a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket with a Russian made RD-180 engine. At over 1.6 million pounds, the Atlas 5 is an absurdly powerful rocket. With only one minor technical difficulty, the rocket accelerated into space leaving EchoStar 19 in a geosynchronous orbit at 22,300 miles above the earth.
A geosynchronous orbit is crucial for a stable satellite connection as that kind of orbit ensures that the satellite stays in the same position above the earth. As such, from the ground EchoStar 19 looks like it’s staying still in the sky. When in reality, the satellite is orbiting at the exact same speed as the Earth so as to maintain constant contact with the geographical regions for which it is providing broadband service. HughesNet has said that they expect this new satellite to provide them with at least 15 years of top-of-line service.
The EchoStar 19 is equipped with Ka-band antennas that offer 183 spot beams and 22 gateway beams. This vast array of constant contact beams will ensure seamless services both in rural areas on the ground and 32,000 ft in the air. The new service will be faster, more reliable and will provide more data and advanced features than ever before. HughesNet plans to announce the pricing of their Gen5 services in January of 2017. While faster service is always a draw, the real success of Gen5 will rely on availability and competitive pricing. HughesNet is certainly a player to watch during this new year.