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Satellite specialist Hughes launches utility broadband

In addition to satellite connectivity, Hughes Network Systems now offers DSL and frame-relay services as part of a new flexible-bandwidth package.

Satellite communications expert Hughes Network Systems announced on Monday that it has launched a new flexible-bandwidth service that includes DSL and frame-relay technologies, among other connectivity options.

Hughes Network said the service, marketed as the Direcway Unified Broadband package, will let companies pick and choose from among different networking-technology formats in order to help match different forms of connectivity with specific business functions.

In offering the service, Hughes Network, known for its tailored private systems, said it has shifted its underlying infrastructure to allow it to market more generic broadband services.

By launching the service and adding the other forms of broadband to its existing satellite capabilities, the company is hoping to become a more well-rounded "network partner" to its customers, said Mike Cook, senior vice president at Hughes Network.

"Taking this more-diversified approach allows us to look at a business and understand the needs, and then provide a network that is optimized to meet those demands," Cook said. "Having the ability to mix and match, or adjust bandwidth, to cater to different business operations has obvious advantages for the customer."

A big part of the mixed-broadband strategy is aimed at letting Hughes Network's customers cut down on the number of networking-bandwidth providers they need to employ, Cook said. For instance, a company that has facilities in areas of the world where one type of broadband is cheaper or more accessible than another can use the program to customize the services in the most reliable and cost-efficient ways possible.

In addition, Hughes Network said it plans to add newer broadband services to the package as technologies are introduced or become more widely accepted. The emerging wireless broadband format called WiMax, which has been promoted as a third option to cable and digital subscriber line for providing high-speed Internet access, is one technology Hughes will likely consider adding in the future, according to the company.

With the new service, Hughes Network customers will have the option to allocate bandwidth resources as needed using a Web-based portal application to oversee network design and usage. The portal also promises to offer performance monitoring and some troubleshooting capabilities.