Hughes Communications

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Hughes Communications, Inc.
Headquarters Germantown, Maryland, U.S.
Area served
Key people
Pradman Kaul
(Chairman, President and CEO)
Revenue Increase US$ 1.043 billion (2010)[1]
Increase US$ 85.62 million (2010)[1]
Increase US$ 22.79 million (2010)[1]
Total assets Increase US$ 1.363 billion (2010)[1]
Total equity Increase US$ 340.0 million (2010)[1]
Number of employees
2,254 (December 2010)[1]
Parent Echostar
Subsidiaries Hughes Network Systems←

Hughes Communications is a provider of satellite-based communications services. The company operates its satellite business through its wholly owned subsidiary, Hughes Network Systems LLC.

In 2011, Hughes was acquired by EchoStar in a deal valued at US$1.3 billion.[2]

Hughes employs 1,900 people worldwide, including 1,200 in Maryland. Other major locations are in India, Nevada and Germany, according to a regulatory filing.


In 1971, the company Hughes Network Systems was founded as Digital Communication Corp of Rockville, Maryland by eight investors most of whom were alumni of Comsat Laboratories. The group was led by John Puente. The first employee was Gene Gabbard. The first contract was a consulting contract for Telesat on a TDMA transmission system via satellite. DCC later went on to build the first commercial TDMA system for Telesat Canada.

DCC was privately held until the late 1970s when it was acquired by Microwave Associates. The combined company name was changed to be M/A-Com. DCC went through a number of name changes and later became M/A-Com Telecommunication Inc. It entered the VSAT market in 1985 supplying VSATs to Schlumberger and a number of other enterprise customers such as WalMart, Holiday Inn, Chrysler, and General Motors.

The M/A-Com Telecommunication was sold to Hughes Aircraft in 1987. Hughes Aircraft Company was then owned by General Motors because it had acquired it in 1985 after the death of Howard Hughes.

By 1996 the Hughes Network Systems division had $1.1 billion in revenue and 2,200 employees. In January 2004, Murdoch's group, News Corp., bought a controlling interest in Hughes Electronics for $6.5 billion, primarily for Hughes's DirecTV satellite television unit.

In 1996, DirecTV Group Inc., the satellite television company owned by Rupert Murdoch, sold the remaining stake in Germantown, Maryland-based Hughes Network Systems Inc. to the holding company of a New York private equity firm for $100 million in cash. Once the deal was complete, Hughes Network Systems became a wholly owned subsidiary of SkyTerra Communications Inc. SkyTerra created the subsidiary Hughes Communications to hold the company Hughes Network Systems.

In February 2006, Hughes Communications was spun off as a separate company with SkyTerra divesting its entire stake in the company to its shareholders.

In 2011, EchoStar Corp. agreed to buy parent Hughes Communications of Germantown in a deal worth about $2 billion, comprising stock and debt assumption.

Subsidiaries of Hughes Communications[edit]

Hughes Network Systems[edit]

A wholly owned subsidiary, Hughes Network Systems is a provider of broadband satellite network products for businesses and consumers. Headquartered outside Washington, D.C., in Germantown, Maryland, USA, it maintains sales and support offices worldwide and employs approximately 1,500 people, in engineering, operations, marketing, sales and support. It also operates manufacturing facilities in Gaithersburg, Maryland. It first opened its doors in 1971 as a division of Hughes Aircraft's GM-merged subsidiary Hughes Electronics, which expanded in 1980 with the purchase of M/A-COM Telecommunications. In January 2003, the company was sold to SkyTerra Communications.


HughesNet is the brand under which Hughes Network Systems[3][4] provides its one-way and two-way satellite Internet access technology and service in United States and Europe. HughesNet provides satellite internet access cross the contiguous United States in areas with a clear view of their satellite(s). From the United States these satellites are located in the southern sky. Originally branded as DirecPC and later DIRECWAY, it originally marketed to business customers as a side venture to the consumer product DIRECTV. In October 1996, operating as an independent entity, Hughes Communications expanded into the consumer market, primarily targeting "work-at-home consumers who might otherwise use ISDN".[3][4] It officially changed its name on March 27, 2006. HughesNet services are sold directly throughout North America, and in Brazil, Europe, and India from authorized service providers and resellers. HughesNet offers downstream rates between 5 Mbit/s and 15 Mbit/s.[5]

HughesNet pricing plans include daily data allowances which, when reached or exceeded, will result in data transfer speed reductions to speeds of 158 kbit/s. They have monthly data restrictions. They range: 10 GB - 40 GB. Exceeding data allowances causes the subscriber's speed to be capped at a reduced rate until the next day. HughesNet has "Bonus Bytes" can be used from 2 a.m. to 8 a.m. ET.[6]

Latency is a serious issue with any communication to satellites in geosynchronous orbit, since it takes approximately a quarter second at the speed of light to travel from earth to the satellite and back. This compares poorly with conventional fiber optic land lines, which typically take a thirtieth of a second or less to cross a continent.

Hughesnet has a 24-month contract period. There are high cancellation fees if the contract is ended early. At the end of service, the equipment has to be returned. HughesNet will send instructions on how to de-install equipment, but a third-party technician will do it for you for a fee determined by the technician.

On July 5, 2012 EchoStar launched their EchoStar XVII satellite.[7] This satellite provided 100 Gbit/s of capacity to their HughesNet product. In Q4 of 2012 HughesNet began offering their Gen4 product. This product offers two-way satellite internet speeds of up to 15 Mbit/s and data allowances up to 40 GB.[8]

Actual costs and/or data plans and daily limits may change and are updated on their website.

Customer reviews are generally negative as to service and speed.


  1. ^ a b c d e f "2010 Form 10-K, Hughes Communications, Inc.". U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. 
  2. ^ de la Merced, Michael (February 14, 2011). "EchoStar in $2.0 Billion Deal for Hughes Communications". New York Times. 
  3. ^ a b McCarthy, Shira (October 14, 1996). "Hughes brings DirecPC home". Telephony Online. Penton Media. Retrieved December 17, 2009. 
  4. ^ a b "Hughes Announces DirecPC(TM) Developed with ISR Device Driver". Archived from the original on April 1, 2002.  (Original page returns "Error 404" as of February 14, 2011)
  5. ^ "HughesNet: Broadband unbound". Satellite Star Internet. Retrieved July 18, 2011. 
  6. ^ "HughesNet Services". HughesNet. Retrieved March 8, 2014. 
  7. ^ "EchoStar XVII Launch Page". EchoStar. Retrieved September 29, 2012. 
  8. ^ "New satellite to offer speeds comparable to DSL and Cable to residents living in rural areas.". A-SAT. Retrieved September 29, 2012. 

External links[edit]