MIPS 25th Anniversary Profile: Hughes Network Systems–broadband Internet applications over satellite

Leading up to (and beyond) the Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPS) 25th Anniversary Gala, each weekday we will briefly profile one of the 500+ companies that have utilized MIPS funding to bring innovations to market and create jobs in Maryland. These profiles will be collected in a commemorative book, released at the celebration on November 7.

Project Manager:  Roderick J. Ragland;  Principal InvestigatorJohn Baras, UMD
Location:  Germantown, Maryland – Montgomery County;  Project Start Date:  3/1/1993

Business Description
Hughes Network Systems LLC (Hughes) is the world’s leading provider of satellite broadband for home and office, delivering innovative network technologies, managed services, and solutions for enterprises and governments globally. HughesNet® is the #1 high-speed satellite Internet service in the marketplace, with offerings to suit every budget. To date, Hughes has shipped more than 2.8 million systems to customers in over 100 countries, representing over 50 percent market share. Its products employ global standards approved by the TIA, ETSI and ITU organizations, including IPoS/DVB-S2, RSM-A, and GMR-1.

Headquartered outside Washington, D.C., in Germantown, Maryland, USA, Hughes operates  sales and support offices worldwide, and is a wholly owned subsidiary of EchoStar Corporation (NASDAQ: SATS), a premier global provider of satellite operations and digital TV solutions.

Challenge
Hughes was developing a service to provide Internet to consumers and businesses via satellite but needed to develop a communications protocol for delivering data via satellite.

MIPS Role
Former electrical engineering graduate student Aaron Falk worked with Baras and Hughes’ Doug Dillion to turn conventional wisdom on its head and develop asymmetric Internet protocols—that send data to the satellite at one speed, and down to a modem at another—for use over satellite. Prevailing theory at the time held that long latency would make this impossible.

Results
The protocols developed by Baras and Hughes are now called TIA-1008, a standard adopted intact by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute.

Over 30 papers were published as a result of the MIPS work with Hughes, according to Baras. Hughes has conducted a total of 15 MIPS projects with the university.

Falk went on to chair the Internet Research Task Force, which promotes research of importance to the evolution of the future Internet. He has chaired the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)’s working groups on TCP over Satellite, Performance Implications of Link Characteristics, and Datagram Congestion Control Protocol.

Interesting Facts
In 1997, Hughes launched DirecPC (now called HughesNet), the first consumer product/service to offer Internet access via satellite.

As of December 31, 2011, HughesNet had approximately 626,000 customers.

A recent COMSYS Report on the VSAT (very small aperture terminal) business credits Hughes with 49.8 percent market share in the global enterprise terminal market, double its nearest competitor.

In the North American consumer market, the report shows Hughes with a 48.4 percent share, almost 12 percent more than its nearest competitor, and notes that its satellite Internet subscriber base is steadily expanding while that of competitors has stalled.

MIPS-Related Quote
“Over time, we’ve probably generated within the State of  Maryland, a large share of our  revenue—$1.5 billion a year, with a total of close to $15 billion.  About $5 billion of that can be directly credited to the work done through MIPS.  We employ 1,500 people here in the state. Most of them are working on businesses related to this technology. MIPS helped develop not just a new product, but a new industry.”
–John Kenyon, Senior Vice President for Engineering, Hughes

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