|Headquarters||Germantown, Maryland, United States|
(Chairman, President and CEO)
|Revenue||$1.39 billion (2016)|
Number of employees
|Subsidiaries||Hughes Network Systems|
Hughes Communications is a wholly owned subsidiary of EchoStar, headquartered in Germantown, Maryland. It provides satellite-based internet and television services under the HughesNet brand through satellites and satellite dishes it designs and manufactures. Hughes Communications was founded in 1971 in a garage in Rockville, Maryland. The company was sold to Microwave Associates in 1977, forming a combined entity called Macom Technology Solutions (MA/COM). MA/COM was then sold to Hughes Aircraft Company, which spun MA/COM off as a public company called Hughes Communications in 2007. EchoStar acquired Hughes Communications in 2011 for about $2 billion.
Hughes Communications was founded under the name Digital Communication Corp. in 1971. The company was started by seven engineers and a lawyer who all previously worked together at Comsat Laboratories. It started in a garage in Rockville, Maryland with $40,000 in startup capital. Initially, the company designed circuit boards unrelated to satellite communications then got its start providing internet connections to small businesses, like gas stations, in remote areas.
By 1977, Digital Communications Corp. had 250 employees and $10.6 million in revenue. In 1978, Digital Communications Corp. was acquired by Microwave Associates for an undisclosed sum.[a] The combined entity was called MA/COM with satellite technology from Digital Communications Corp. and microwave-based communications technologies from Microwave Associates. MA/COM was bought in turn by Hughes Aircraft Co. in 1987 for $105 million and the Digital Communications division was named Hughes Communications.
In 2004, News Corp acquired a controlling interest in Hughes Communications through a $6.5 billion purchase intended primarily for the DirecTV unit. DirecTV also began selling off its ownership interests, culminating in a $100 million sale to a private equity firm. As a result, Hughes became a wholly-owned subsidiary of SkyTerra Communications Inc., which was controlled by the investment firm. Hughes Communications was spun-off as an independent public company in 2007, then acquired by EchoStar for about $2 billion in 2011.[b]
Products and services
Hughes Communications designs, builds, and launches satellites used for DirecTV television programming and the company's own HughesNet internet subscription service. As of 2017, Hughes Communications controls 60 percent of the market for residential satellite-based internet connections, which are mostly used by rural customers out-of-reach of wired infrastructure. Hughes also markets its services to government, business, and military, but 80% of its customers are consumers.
DirecPC, a predecessor to HughesNet, was introduced in 1996. It was followed by DIRECWAY in May 2002. This was followed by HughesNet Gen 4 in 2012. In March 2017, Hughes became the first satellite-based internet provider to meet the Federal Communications Commission's definition of "broadband" with HughesNet Gen 5 after launching the Echostar XIX satellite to support it.
- EchoStar Corporation 2016 Annual Report (PDF), EchoStar, retrieved January 30, 2018
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- Wireless Satellite & Broadcasting. May 2002. p. 7. Retrieved February 2, 2018.
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