Cable operators will soon be seeing greater high-speed data competition from the heavens, thanks to wholesale distribution pacts that WildBlue Communications announced with DirecTV Inc. and EchoStar Communications earlier today.
Under the twin deals, both DirecTV and EchoStar will offer WildBlue's satellite broadband Internet access to their subscribers for the next five years. Both distribution deals are exclusive, meaning that the two DBS players can't sign up with another satellite broadband provider.
WildBlue, which offers two-way data service that's up to 30 times faster than dial-up service but a bit slower than most cable modem offerings, says it will continue focusing on smaller towns and rural areas. The company, which launched service last summer, has mainly concentrated on areas where cable modem and DSL products are not available.
But there's nothing to stop WildBlue from expanding its focus to urban and suburban markets too. After all, that's what DirecTV and EchoStar did after they initially rolled out digital video service in rural areas.
EchoStar and DirecTV, which also team with the Bells to promote DSL service, will co-brand their new high-speed products with WildBlue. Both satellite TV providers will sell the service under their own names while sub-branding it as "powered by WildBlue."