Dish Network targets rural areas with new satellite-based broadband service

Dish Network (Nasdaq: DISH) will officially launch its dishNET broadband service on Oct. 1, targeting consumers who have little or no broadband service options.

The satellite provider will offer two main packages: a 5/1 Mbps tier for $39.99 a month (plus equipment fees) with 10GB of data and that most satellite customers can upgrade to a 10/1 Mbps package for $49.99 per month.

Of course, the new satellite service comes with the usual contract catches.

Customers who want the $39.99 5/1 Mbps package must commit to a two-year contract. They'll receive a bundle that includes either Dish's America's Top 120 or higher programming packages. Satellite customers who purchase the broadband service as part of a bundle will save $10 a month.

As part of their package, subscribers will get five email accounts, each with 2 GB of storage and an easy-to-configure online mail portal that combines web search, news, entertainment and weather updates.

Besides the satellite Internet service, Dish said that it its CLEC subsidiary Liberty Bell Telecom will fold its wireline broadband service into the dishNET brand. Comprised of customers in 14 Midwest and Western states, Dish will offer those customers a 7 Mbps connection for $29.95 a month. The provider will also offer customers to upgrade to a 12 Mbps tier for $5 more a month or 20 Mbps for another $10 a month.

In announcing its service, Dish cited a recent Federal Communications Commission (FCC) report that 19 million Americans still can't get a broadband connection, including 14.5 million who live in rural markets.

Although there have been a series of failed attempts by other players like Open Range to address the hard-to-serve rural markets with WiMAX-based wireless service, it's possible that given the deeper pockets that Dish Network has over these smaller players, it may be able to build dishNet into a profitable business venture.

For more:
- see the release
- Wall Street Journal has this article (sub. req.)

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