EchoStar boosted by Hughes
By Chris Forrester

Satellite operator EchoStar Corp (now separated from its Dish pay-TV business) bought Hughes Communications for $2.2 billion back in June, and is now seeing the broadband-by-satellite provider making a key contribution to the parent company’s quarterly results. During the quarter (to June 30) Hughes improved its US national consumer subscriber base by 2 percent.

That was a good start, taking its consumer connections to a total of 626,000, helped by a US governmental subsidy package of $551 per new sign-up. Some 464,000 of these subscribers were being carried by Hughes operated Spaceway 3 all Ka-Band satellite. Next year Hughes will launch a new concept satellite, dubbed Jupiter, which has the ability to handle 10-12 times the flow of transmissions, and up to 1.5 million-2 million subscribers. Spaceway 3 will cope with around 600,000 subs.

But Hughes also saw a slew of new business accounts during the period. At the end of June Hughes had a backlog of about $1.1 billion-worth of future orders. Hughes’ new order input was 36 per cent ahead of last year’s pace on a year-over-year basis through June of 2011. Significant orders in Q2 included Safeway, Wyndham hotels, ExxonMobil, Beverage and More, CDs and Cracker Barrel in the North American business units. Key international orders were from Avante, Fintex, Nigeria, TIM and Telemar Brazil, Central Bank of India, and National Telecom Corporation of Ecuador.

“Hughes also recorded a large order in Q2 from Boeing for their MEXSAT project. This strong order activity resulted in a non-consumer order backlog of over $1.1 billion, going into Q2. This, together with another $1.1 billion of contracted backlog and our EFS business puts us in a strong position with significant visibility in the future revenues,” said Mike Dugan, EchoStar’s CEO.