EchoStar’s Broadband Plans Fly Again

EchoStar has received its first good news from the Federal Communications Commission in months as the agency reversed its June decision to cancel the firm’s Ka-band license. The decision came earlier this week.

The FCC’s international satellite bureau cancelled the license because its records showed EchoStar had not started construction of a satellite that operates on the Ka-band, the frequency found best for two-way satellite broadband communications. Several months later, the FCC refused to approve the proposed merger between EchoStar and Hughes.

EchoStar won back its Ka band license during its appeal process when the firm produced a photograph documenting that the satellite designated to carry EchoStar’s broadband signal was in, fact, under construction when the FCC cancelled the license.

Ka-band is seen as the optimal spectrum for two-way satellite Internet services. Operating on the 17.7 GHz, 21.2 GHz, 27.5 GHz and 31 GHz spectrums, the virtually unused frequencies will allow for EchoStar’s satellite to cover large areas in its orbit. No launch date has been announced.

EchoStar’s DISH Network, the popular satellite TV service, operates on the Ku-band and is not affected by the ruling. But the loss of a Ka-band license would have put an end to EchoStar’s hopes to marry TV with broadband Internet services.

The Littleton, Colo.-based satellite firm is reworking its application to merge with DirecTV’s parent company, Hughes Electronics. The Department of Justice has is also suing to block the merger, which proposes to combine the nation’s two largest satellite TV providers.

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