Hughes Network Systems has successfully launched and deployed its new Spaceway satellite, expected to enable high-speed IP data networking across North America at rates of from 512 Kbps up to 16 Mbps upstream and as fast as 30 Mbps downstream. It is one of the largest telecommunications satellites ever built, and its design includes onboard dynamic multi-beam switching, which will deliver bandwidth-on-demand and direct site-to-site mesh networking.
In a small business application, Spaceway is expected to operate at about 2 Mbps in the upstream. It's a different sort of satellite, using on-board routers to control 780 downlink beams and 112 uplink beams aimed at U.S. market customers. Unlike earlier generations of satellites, Spaceway uses nothing but spot beams, allowing a high degree of frequency reuse. What that means is that a single Spaceway satellite offers capacity equivalent to eight to 10 conventional birds using a single beam with continental coverage.
Commercial operations are expected in early 2008.
Spaceway might not be a game-changing network in the broad consumer mass market, where cable and telephone companies are expected to dominate the access market. But it might well have significant impact in the enterprise market, for customers who need distributed, IP-based, broadband mesh networks, where Spaceway will excel.
Spaceway also sets up head-to-head competition with Wildblue, another provider also offering satellite broadband to customers largely based in rural areas.
Channel partners might also want to take note that HNS, for the first time in its history, has created a channel program and is willing to sell to enterprise customers with fewer than 500 to 1,000 sites, its traditional market, using its existing VSAT network. That doesn't mean HNS is terribly interested, if at all, in two-node networks. But it undoubtedly is willing to entertain service for networks with as few as 20 to 50 nodes, something it never has been willing to do before.