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The SPACEWAY system was originally envisioned as a global Ka band communications system by Hughes Electronics.[1][2] When the project to build the system was taken over by Hughes Network Systems,[3] a subsidiary of Hughes Electronics, it was transformed into a phased deployment initially only launching a North American satellite system. This is in comparison to other more ambitious systems such as Teledesic[4] and Astrolink[5] which retained their full global nature and which subsequently failed to complete their systems. Hughes Network Systems working with Hughes Electronics subsidiary Hughes Space and Communications (and subsequently sold to Boeing and called Boeing Satellite Systems and later the Boeing Satellite Development Center)[6] completed and built the North American SPACEWAY system[7] meant to provide broadband capabilities of up to 512 kbit/s, 2 Mbit/s, and 16 Mbit/s uplink data communication rates[8] with fixed Ka-band satellite terminal antennas sized as small as 74 cm (29 in).[9] The broadband SPACEWAY system was standardized by Telecommunications Industry Association[10] and European Telecommunications Standards Institute as the Regenerative Satellite Mesh - A Air Interface.[9]

After News Corp purchased a controlling interest in Hughes Electronics, the company sold off its controlling interest in Hughes Network Systems but retained SPACEWAY-1 and SPACEWAY-2 for use in the DirecTV satellite television subsidiary of Hughes Electronics.[11] Boeing retrofitted the first two satellites for bent pipe Ka-band communications for use in high definition television and disabled the regenerative on-board processing of the original system that was to be used for broadband satellite communications.[12]

Despite statements to the contrary in the system's initial filings with the Federal Communications Commission, none of the three satellites have Inter-Satellite Links connecting the satellites directly with each other in space.[6]

SPACEWAY-1, SPACEWAY-2 and SPACEWAY-3 have been launched and Hughes Network Systems has an option to purchase and have Boeing build SPACEWAY-4.[12]



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