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Satellite internet finally offers true broadband speeds

Hughes Network Systems says it's launching the first US satellite service to deliver FCC-defined broadband speeds of 25Mbps downloads and 3Mbps uploads.

Satellite internet service that caters to rural and other remote consumers and small businesses has been steadily improving over the years.

Now EchoStar subsidiary Hughes Network Systems has announced that its new HughesNet Gen5 service, which goes live on March 16, has cleared a big hurdle and will be the first to achieve the Federal Communications Commission's defined broadband speeds of 25Mbps downloads and 3Mbps uploads across the continental US and "key areas" in Alaska.

HughesNet Gen5 will tap into Hughes' newly launched EchoStar XIX satellite, which the company describes as the "world's highest capacity broadband satellite," along with the EchoStar XVII satellite currently in orbit. HughesNet Gen5 is powered by Hughes' Jupiter System, the "world's most widely deployed satellite networking platform," the company said.

Not only will the new service deliver faster speeds and more data, but it will offer built-in Wi-Fi.

"HughesNet Gen5 will bring a new level of Internet services to the approximately 18 million households across the United States that are either unserved or suffering from slow wireline Internet services," said Pradman Kaul, president of Hughes Network Systems.

For residential customers, the HughesNet Gen5 service offers plans with up to 50GB of data per month and prices that starts at $49.99 per month. Business plans range up to 250GB with prices starting at $69.99. All plans come with the same 25Mbps download and 3Mbps upload speeds. (That's all the pricing info Hughes would provide at this time, but it will post all of the Gen5 plans and prices on March 16).

According to the company, other new features to the Gen5 service include:

  • Built-in Wi-Fi to connect wireless devices.
  • No hard data limits. If monthly plan data is exceeded, service continues at a reduced speed until the next billing cycle.
  • Video Data Saver to watch videos using less data.
  • Bonus Zone, or 50 GB of free data per month to use during off-peak hours (2 a.m. to 8 a.m. local time).

It's also worth mentioning that the new Jupiter Aero System will tap into the EchoStar XIX satellite, offering 400Mbps per aircraft, and that certain airlines, such as Southwest, will offer the boosted wireless internet service in the second half of 2017.

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