The exclusive five-year agreement means that WildBlue will be able to provide television services. A separate dish is currently required to receive television signals. Both DirecTV and Echostar (Dish Network) plan to roll out internet services (via WildBlue) over the coming months.
“We have worked very hard this year to make our affordable broadband Internet service available to every home and small business across the continental U.S., and we are pleased to be working with DIRECTV and EchoStar to further strengthen our presence nationwide and to extend their respective product offerings as well,” said CEO David Leonard.
The companies said this is especially important for those in rural areas, where cable and telecommunications companies have been slow in rolling out high-speed services.
In May 2006, AT&T began selling WildBlue’s satellite-based internet access, to rural customers across its 13-state territory. Rural satellite-based broadband subscribers will have three service packages to choose from, with prices ranging from $49.95 to $79.95 per month.
WildBlue has about 60,000 customers in the U.S. while EchoStar and DirecTV have about 27 million customers, combined.
WildBlue’s next Ka-band spot beam satellite, WildBlue-1, has been scheduled for launch aboard an Ariane 5 vehicle in Q4 2006. WildBlue-1, manufactured by Space Systems/Loral, will approximately triple WildBlue’s customer capacity, and is expected to handle WildBlue’s continuing rapid customer growth into 2008 and beyond.