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Dish Network planning nationwide 15Mbps satellite broadband for rural areas

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Dish Network is planning to launch a new nationwide satellite broadband service providing speeds of up to 15Mbps to rural areas lacking reliable cable access.

Gallery Photo: ViaSat satellite internet service hands-on photos
Gallery Photo: ViaSat satellite internet service hands-on photos

Satellite TV provider Dish Network will introduce a new range of broadband options in late September or early October, according to reports from The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg Businessweek. Using a satellite maintained by sister company EchoStar, the service will provide download connections of up to 15Mbps to rural areas without reliable access to cable broadband. While only marginally faster than the company's existing ViaSat-powered satellite broadband service, which offers download speeds of up to 12Mbps, the new offering will cover the entire US, allowing it to compete more readily with cable rivals as part of a bundled satellite product.

Citing a person familiar with the situation, Bloomberg reports that Dish's new service will initially be restricted to around 5Mbps to allow the EchoStar 17 satellite — launched at the beginning of last month — to take on a large number of simultaneous connections. According to the same source, the satellite will eventually be capable of serving approximately two million new broadband customers, using a higher frequency than older equipment. Dish is currently negotiating with the FCC over plans to use other parts of its spectrum to launch an LTE mobile network — if approved, this would add yet another string to the company's bow, allowing it to make its bundled products more comprehensive and attractive.