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Will opportunity knock in IFEC as EchoStar and Dish complete merger?


Satellite communications provider EchoStar Corporation has completed its all-stock merger with American television provider Dish Network Corporation, creating what EchoStar calls “a global leader in terrestrial and non-terrestrial wireless connectivity”.

Completed on 31 December 2023, the transaction combines EchoStar’s satcom solutions with Dish Network’s satellite technology, streaming services and 5G network — which now covers more than 70 percent of the US population.

“To complete the acquisition, a wholly owned subsidiary of EchoStar merged with and into Dish Network, with Dish Network surviving the merger as a wholly owned subsidiary of EchoStar,” EchoStar said in a statement. The combined company is headquartered in Englewood, Colorado.

Pertinent to RGN readers, the merger may in time have implications for inflight entertainment and connectivity. For instance, it’s conceivable that Dish and EchoStar subsidiary Hughes could package live television with onboard Internet to create a potentially powerful inflight entertainment and connectivity (IFEC) offering inclusive of IPTV.

Dish already supplies inflight live TV to airlines. Hughes, meanwhile, has entered the direct-to-airline inflight connectivity market, and was recently tapped by Delta Air Lines to install Ka-band satellite-supported IFC on 400-plus aircraft comprising Boeing 717 narrowbodies plus regional jets flying on behalf of the airline. Hughes’ connectivity kit, inclusive of ThinKom Solutions’ Ka1717 VICTS antenna, will access Hughes’ JUPITER Ka-band GEO satellite capacity for the Delta program.

A Delta spokesperson told RGN that Hughes’ broadband connectivity solution will enable the carrier to offer its new Delta Sync Wi-Fi login experience — the gateway to free Wi-Fi and personalization — to passengers flying its 717s and regional jets. Delta Sync is currently offered on a large portion of Delta’s domestic fleet, as supported by Viasat’s Ka-band GEO connectivity solution. However, Delta does not plan to offer Dish live television as part of Delta Sync on the 717s/RJs, the Delta spokesperson said.


Dish competes with DirecTV in supporting inflight live television on domestic US aircraft, but DirecTV, which is currently found solely on Viasat-fitted aircraft, is readying to take its IPTV product to an international stage. El Segundo, California-based DirecTV told RGN it plans to launch a global IPTV offering for airlines in the second quarter of 2024 and anticipates that passengers will be able to access the solution via IFE screens and personal devices.

It remains to be seen how much of the direct aero market will be secured by EchoStar. Its Hughes subsidiary, however, is making strong headway, and its international satellite footprint includes a distribution agreement in aero for OneWeb’s Low Earth Orbit (LEO) connectivity service.

More broadly, with the merger, EchoStar believes its enhanced consumer connectivity business and enterprise managed services business positions the firm for growth.

John Swieringa, EchoStar’s president, technology & chief operating officer, noted in a statement that: “Bridging the digital divide and seamlessly connecting people, enterprises, and things is essential in the digital-first economy.

“Our combined brands, technology and operational and engineering resources uniquely position EchoStar to provide a compelling global offering that connects consumers to the internet access, mobile phone service, television programming, and streaming content they want, as well as delivering business and government customers the secure terrestrial, non-terrestrial, and hybrid connectivity solutions they need.”

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Featured image of EchoStar/Hughes signage at the 2023 Satellite convention in DC credited to Mary Kirby