EchoStar has successful launched its latest high-capacity satellite into orbit, and technicians will spend the next couple of days deploying the solar panels required to power the satellite for its expected useful life. The new satellite will enable HughesNet to deliver much-faster Internet access speeds, the precise speeds depending on how HughesNet allocates available transponder capacity.

In principle, HughesNet could support connections running at 25 Mbps. Whether it chooses to do so, or not, remains a bit unclear. The trade-off, of course, is that the number of customers HughesNet can support declines, as per-user bandwidth grows.

Both HughesNet and competitor ViaSat now have launched the new high-capacity satellites that will anchor their access services for a decade to come.

EchoStar and HugnesNet executives will be watching closely, as a satellite of the same design failed to extend one of its solar panels, shortening the satellite’s useful life. Space Systems/Loral built the EchoStar satellite.

The EchoStar XVII, was launched from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana, at 5:36 p.m. ET on Thursday, July 5, 2012. The satellite is key to the next generation of satellite-based high-speed broadband services to be sold by HughesNet.

Rural broadband provider Xplornet Communications has purchased 100 per cent of the EchoStar XVII’s Canadian capacity, enabling it to reach roughly two million of the 2.4 million rural Canadian households currently unserved by wired broadband.

The satellite’s U.S. capacity is owned by Hughes Network Systems LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of EchoStar Corp.

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