EchoStar Communications Corporation, News Corp. and MCI WorldCom Inc. Announce FCC Approval of Transfer of Assets
EchoStar Plans to Launch Two High-Powered Loral Satellites in 1999
Littleton, Colo., May 19, 1999 EchoStar Communications Corporation, "EchoStar," (NASDAQ: DISH, DISHP), The News Corporation Limited (NYSE:NWS, NWS-A) and MCI WorldCom (NASDAQ:WCOM) today announced that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has approved the transfer from MCI WorldCom to EchoStar of the license to operate a high-powered direct broadcast satellite (DBS) business at the 110 degrees West Longitude orbital location consisting of 28 frequencies, bringing EchoStar's total to 29 frequencies at 110° W.L.
In conjunction with FCC approval, EchoStar also announced the scheduled launch of EchoStar V in late summer 1999 and EchoStar VI in December 1999, on Atlas launch vehicles from Cape Canaveral, Fla. Both satellites are scheduled to be launched to the strategic 110° W.L. orbital slot, capable of providing service to the entire continental United States, including Alaska, Hawaii and the U.S. territories in the Caribbean.
A successful EchoStar V launch in late summer will enable EchoStar's DISH Network to add over 250 channels for consumers this year. By combining the capacity of the satellites at the 110° W.L. orbital slot and EchoStar's current satellites at 119°, EchoStar's DISH Network will be able to offer over 500 channels of programming, Internet/data delivery and HDTV from a single dish.
The launches will also enhance EchoStar's leadership role in providing popular local channels by satellite. With a single 18-inch dish, over 50 percent of consumers in the United States will be able to receive their local channels with a digital picture and CD-quality audio. In smaller cities representing approximately 20 percent of the U.S. population, consumers will be able to receive local channels by satellite by installing a second dish. DISH Network currently offers local channels in 13 major cities.
"We're pleased to secure these long-term plans for EchoStar, which will allow us to provide new and exciting digital content to DISH Network subscribers," said Charlie Ergen, chairman and CEO of EchoStar. "EchoStar V and VI, when combined with our existing fleet of satellites, position EchoStar to deliver more content to American consumers from a single integrated source than any other multichannel video service provider."
Built by Space Systems/Loral in Palo Alto, Calif., EchoStar V and EchoStar VI are both high-powered FS-1300 series spacecraft. EchoStar V has 32 110W Ku-band transponders and EchoStar VI has 32 125W Ku-band transponders. Both satellites are capable of power-combining to 16 transponders each of 220W and 250W, respectively, to meet the transmission demands of today's direct-broadcast markets.
EchoStar Communications Corp., includes three interrelated business units:
- DISH Network is EchoStar's state-of-the-art DBS system that offers customers over 300 channels of digital video and CD-quality audio programming, fully MPEG-2/DVB compliant hardware and installation.
- EchoStar Technologies Corporation (ETC, formerly HTS - Houston Tracker Systems, Inc.), designs, manufactures and distributes DBS set-top boxes, antennas and other digital equipment for DISH Network and various international customers that include ExpressVu Canada and Telefonica's Vía Digital system in Spain. ETC also provides uplink-center design, construction oversight and project-integration services for customers internationally.
- Satellite Services provides the delivery of video, audio and data services to business television customers and other satellite users. These services include satellite uplink, satellite transponder space-usage and other services. Satellite Services also administers Sky Vista, a direct broadcast satellite service offering up to 27 channels of popular digital satellite television programming to viewers in Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the U.S. territories in the Caribbean.