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Dish Network plans nationwide broadband service

The Dish Network (opens in new tab) is planning to launch a nationwide broadband service using EchoStar 17, a satellite owned by EchoStar Corp., its sister company.

The broadband satellite to handle the data traffic, launched on July 5 from French Guiana on the northeast coast of South America, can support download speeds of 15Mb/s, according to a Businessweek report, would probably start at slower speeds of about 5Mb/s so that the network can take on more capacity. The report said Dish could add about 2 million new Internet customers with the nascent service.

Today’s satellites can use higher-frequency bands to offer faster broadband to more people than previous satellites. The capacity for these kinds of services has climbed “by an order of magnitude,” Deepak Dutt, vice president of investor relations at EchoStar, told Businessweek, without commenting on the new Dish offering.

The service should be a welcome addition for residents in rural areas who cannot now get cable broadband services. Dish, Businessweek reported, expects to formally offer the service in late September or early October.

Joseph Clayton, CEO of Dish, said in January that the market potential for satellite broadband service is “substantial, given the nearly 8 million to 10 million mostly rural American households that are unserved.”

EchoStar and Dish became separate companies in 2008, although Charlie Ergen remains the chairman of both. The details of how they will split revenue and how much the service will cost consumers are still being discussed, Businessweek reported.

Dish is already in a partnership with Carlsbad, CA-based ViaSat (VSAT), to provide satellite Internet service through parts of the country. Some customers get speeds of as much as 12Mb/s. The new service, Businessweek reported, will supplement that product and give Dish nationwide coverage.

The report said Dish might need to add more satellites to expand the service beyond 2 million people while maintaining the same speeds. The company, which has a total of about 14 million customers, hasn’t disclosed how many users are served by the ViaSat agreement.

The FCC has a pending application from to use its wireless spectrum to offer mobile Internet and phone service, which the company could bundle with satellite TV and broadband. That would give subscribers a “quad play.”