Hughes plans to increase TV bandwidth on satellites

Hughes Electronics, owner of satellite broadcaster DirecTV, plans to reconfigure new satellites that had been intended for high-speed data transmission to provide additional bandwidth for advanced television services.

The shift in strategy, on the eve of the planned takeover of Hughes by News Corp., at the end of the year, appears to mean that DirecTV is focusing on offering next-generation television services such as providing local television channels in high-definition format rather than on consumer Internet access.

The satellites to be reconfigured are part of Hughes’ $1.5 billion Spaceway project and were intended to provide broadband data services for businesses and consumers. However, in comments made to the SkyForum satellite industry conference last week in New York City, and first reported in the Wall Street Journal, DirecTV chairman and CEO Eddy Hartenstein said Hughes is looking at ways to use part of the Spaceway satellites’ capacity “to fill a big need for DirecTV.”

A DirecTV spokesman declined to elaborate but said that the potential use of Spaceway capacity for DirecTV broadcasts was disclosed in an SEC filing at the beginning of the year.

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