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YIR: Hughes Network Systems
by Dr. Arunas Slekys, Vice President

2008: This was a year of change. In the political realm, the enormous power of the individual to effect change has been confirmed yet again. Economically speaking, the painful, and most unwelcome, global financial meltdown may yet prove to be a catalyst for positive change in how we do business, how we govern ourselves, and underlying it all, how we communicate better on this tightly coupled planet we call home. And who better than those of us in the communications technology business to be the agents of that change? Indeed, it is the Internet and associated digital technologies we pursue every day that hold the key to more effective and affordable systems, processes and applications that can undoubtedly accelerate our transition to a new economic normalcy.

At Hughes, our mission has always been to innovate and create positive change. Since inventing VSATs over 20 years ago, we’ve maintained market leadership as the world’s largest provider of broadband satellite networks and services, with more than 1.5 million systems shipped to consumer, small business, enterprise and government customers in more than 100 countries. We are now a successful broadband satellite service provider on four continents. And we continued pushing the communications technology and services envelopes in 2008. For example...

After almost 10 years in the making, and following a successful launch into orbit last year, this past April we initiated commercial service on SPACEWAY®-3, turning Hughes overnight into a fully integrated satellite service provider. At 10 Gbps throughput, SPACEWAY-3 is the world’s highest traffic-carrying commercial satellite system, and the first with on-board switching and routing. Combined with numerous other advances, such as a phased array antenna, and multi-hopping spot beams with frequency reuse, SPACEWAY® 3 represents a step function change in satellite technology. These technology advances have already been translated into HughesNet service offerings across all of our market sectors in North America, including the highest speed satellite Internet access plans available, up to 5Mbps; bandwidth-on-demand services; and deployment of any combination of star or mesh private network topologies, ideally suited for government Continuity of Operations (COOP) and emergency preparedness applications.

Some of the most dramatic changes for Hughes have been in the Government sector. Our recent selection on the U.S. General Services Administration’s SATCOM-II and Networx contract vehicles unleashed the possibility for agencies to realize the many benefits of broadband satellite network solutions, now significantly enhanced with the capabilities of SPACEWAY-3. For example, the Government Education and Training Network (GETN) recently selected Hughes to take its distance-learning initiatives into the 21st century. GETN is a network of federal agencies using a common satellite carrier for an interoperable, interactive network that enables user agencies to share distance learning programs accessing common facilities. The Hughes solution uses our nationwide HughesNet broadband satellite platform to broadcast compressed digital video and audio distance learning programs to GETN agencies such as the Air National Guard, the U.S. Army, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, anywhere in the country, affordably.

Another example of the power of satellite to deliver distance learning is at he Social Security Administration (SSA), which selected Hughes as one of the prime contractors to provide operational support services for its Interactive Video Tele-training (IVT) Network. Reaching out to more than 1,650 SSA offices in the continental United States, as well as Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the IVT Network will be fully-managed byHughes, including delivery of video and related broadband applications.

Both GETN and SSA sites are in this wonderful land of ours, with buildings, roads, and nearby coffee shops. But what about places with few or no roads, and a difficult geography with rivers and forests that make it impossible to use any kind of terrestrial technology alone, whether fixed or wireless? We need only look to our neighbors in Brazil, where Hughes has partnered with PRODAM, the state data processing company, and will soon be delivering high-speed Internet service to government agencies and the public at large throughout the State of Amazonas. Covering 1.5 million square kilometers (930,000 square miles, about 30 percent larger than Alaska), with its huge rainforest and containing the world’s most voluminous river, Amazonas presents a significant challenge to deliver broadband on such a large and complex geographic scale. But the unique Hughes solution that combines WiMAX base stations with broadband satellite backhaul will soon solve the enormous challenge of connecting this resource-rich region to the world. As the State governor stated :

“We govern an immense state that has continental dimensions,” said Eduardo Braga, governor of the State of Amazonas. “This technology will enhance our ability to govern the entire territory, improve information dissemination to our citizens, and assist decision making in all areas of the administration, whether in the areas of health, education, public security, or the environment.”

Closer to home, Hughes has partnered with Florida-based America’s Emergency Network (AEN) to deliver a satellite-based emergency communications’ system powered by the nationwide HughesNet service, which has been successfully streaming real-time news briefings from numerous state and local operations centers since the onset of the hurricane season. AEN's service provides residents with access to news, preparedness, and recovery advisories issued by the governor and other state officials by streaming live, storm-related briefings from Florida's Division of Emergency Management in Tallahassee and the Village of Islamorada, and from operations centers in various counties.

Additionally, the service works with major Florida newspapers to provide convenient, free public access to the video streams over their websites. Hughes and AEN tested various technologies and demonstrated how SPACEWAY’s mesh capability delivered the connectivity and bandwidth that was needed. Consisting of six pilot sites and lasting about 12 months, the AEN effort moved from pilot to service when AEN transmitted real briefings about relief efforts during Tropical Storm Fay and Hurricane Gustav, mitigating potentially devastating consequences. This solution has also clearly demonstrated how satellite communications are the key to path diversity for all COOP applications, offering a true alternate path when terrestrial networks are knocked out.

I could continue indefinitely as new stories of positive change brought about by broadband are happening as we speak, touching people around the globe, with the potential to help change lives for the better.As we bid adieu to 2008, may those of us in the communications business make that our collective wish and priority for the future, and continue being the agents of change that we are.

About the author
Dr. Arunas Slekys is vice president of Corporate Marketing, as well as vice president and general manager of the Russia & CIS Business for HUGHES. In these dual positions, he is responsible for managing all of HUGHES marketing and advocacy initiatives worldwide, along with overall P&L responsibility for the company’s broadband satellite business in Russia, Ukraine and the CIS countries. Previously, Dr. Slekys served as vice president of the Wireless Networks Division at HUGHES, responsible for the product line business comprising the AIReach® family of digital cellular mobile, wireless loop and wireless data (CDPD) systems. During this period he was elected and served for several years on the CTIA board. His long affiliation with the wireless industry began at NovAtel Communications, Ltd. in Calgary Alberta, where he served from the company's inception as senior vice president for product research and development, spearheading it’s success worldwide in the cellular mobile and systems marketplace. In 1991 he was awarded the Alberta Centennial Engineering Award for attaining the highest distinction in his profession.

About the company
Hughes Network Systems, LLC (HUGHES) is the global leader in providing broadband satellite networks and services for large enterprises, governments, small businesses, and consumers. HughesNet™ encompasses all broadband solutions and managed services from Hughes, bridging the best of satellite and terrestrial technologies. To date, Hughes has shipped more than 1.5 million systems to customers in over 100 countries. Its broadband satellite products are based on global standards approved by the TIA, ETSI and ITU standards organizations, including IPoS/DVB-S2, RSM-A and GMR-1.