Home Featured HughesNet Lost 200K Satellite Internet Users To Starlink

HughesNet Lost 200K Satellite Internet Users To Starlink

by William Linden

In the realm of satellite internet providers, HughesNet faced a significant setback in 2023, shedding approximately 224,000 subscribers, marking its third consecutive year of losses. This decline was attributed to the burgeoning popularity of SpaceX’s Starlink, a trend that has been steadily eroding HughesNet’s customer base. EchoStar, the parent company of HughesNet, disclosed this unsettling trend during a recent earnings call, where COO Paul Gaske lamented the dip in consumer numbers.

Gaske revealed that HughesNet’s consumer division concluded 2023 with around 1 million satellite broadband subscribers, a notable drop from the figures reported in the previous year. Just two months after the launch of Starlink in December 2020, HughesNet boasted 1.56 million customers, underscoring the formidable competition it now faces from Elon Musk’s space venture.

While Starlink’s rapid ascent wasn’t explicitly acknowledged during the earnings call, Gaske pointed fingers at HughesNet’s capacity constraints, intensified competitive pressures, and a more discerning approach to customer acquisition as primary factors contributing to the subscriber hemorrhage. Moreover, he hinted at a strategic shift within HughesNet towards catering more to enterprise clientele, a move exemplified by recent endeavors such as providing satellite internet services for in-flight Wi-Fi on Delta Airlines.

Gaske articulated his expectation that enterprise revenues would surpass consumer revenues for the first time in 2024, signaling a pivot in HughesNet’s business strategy amidst the relentless onslaught from Starlink. In a bid to shore up its competitiveness, HughesNet launched the Jupiter 3 satellite, promising download speeds of up to 100Mbps. Early indications suggest positive feedback from subscribers who began experiencing the upgraded speeds in December, offering a glimmer of hope in the face of dwindling numbers.

However, the battle for supremacy in the satellite internet arena shows no signs of abating. SpaceX has plans to roll out a portable “mini” Starlink later this year, poised to further disrupt the market. Simultaneously, Amazon is gearing up to beta-test its own satellite internet system, Project Kuiper, slated for the latter half of 2024. As these industry giants continue to vie for dominance, the landscape of satellite internet provision is set to undergo further seismic shifts, with consumers poised to benefit from enhanced competition and technological innovation.

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