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EchoStar Launches Broadband Data Service

Accelerating its plans to deliver broadband data services via satellite, EchoStar said it would offer this month a new DISHLink system that will help businesses transmit large data files and multiple channels of streaming video to office desktops.

DISHLink is described as an Intranet appliance designed to connect a Local Area Network (LAN) to EchoStar’s DISH Network satellite TV system. It will provide an efficient means of delivering large data files and live streaming video via high-powered satellites. EchoStar plans to demonstrate the new service at the National Association of Broadcasters’ (NAB) convention in Las Vegas April 10-13.

EchoStar said it sees the system being used to distribute large data files, and programs via a broadband connection rather than on CD-ROMs of DVD-ROM discs. EchoStar said DISHLink is capable of sending “multi-gigabyte documents at speeds of up to 27 Mbps.”

The broadband connection will also allow large streaming media applications for businesses to transmit high-quality video conferences and presentations to remote offices “at a fraction of the cost of high-speed terrestrial” platforms, the company said.

Viewers can “change channels” and view a programming guide, using a standard web browser.

“DISHLink represents our first step toward providing a range of broadband content distribution alternatives to our enterprise customers,” said Jim Stratigos, EchoStar Data Networks VP said in a prepared statement. “It is truly a `bridge’ platform that will integrate easily into traditional business TV networks and at the same time provide a migration path from TVs to desktop PCs for distributing trainings and company communications.”

EchoStar said it will provide DISHLink customers with a secure FTP server that “automatically schedules data and video files for delivery at the appropriate time and data rate.” Live streaming video can be multicast over the subscribers LAN at adjustable data rates of 100 kb/s to 1.5 Mbps. The company carries two DISHLink models — the DISHLink 100 and DISHLink 100VR.

The former will deliver data files while the latter can deliver both data files and streaming video. The service will be available in mid-April. Pricing will start at $1,000 per unit. Monthly service fees start at $30 per month.

Although DISHLink is targeted at commercial applications, EchoStar is also working on platforms to offer two-way broadband data services to home subscribers.