WASHINGTON — EchoStar’s Hughes Network Systems reported a nearly 2% in total satellite consumer broadband subscribers in the three months ending March 31, with most of the growth coming from Central and South America, where subscribers totaled more than 150,000.
It was the first time EchoStar reported its non-North American subscriber count, and in this case it was the non-U.S. business that drove the growth. At March 31, the Hughes consumer broadband subscriber base stood at 1.388 million, up 27,000 from where it was Dec. 31.
The company declined to disclose the Central and South American broadband figures in the previous quarter.
Hughes has said its U.S. consumer broadband subscriber growth has been stalled by the lack of capacity on the company’s Jupiter 1 and Jupiter 2 Ka-band broadband satellites.
Jupiter 3, under construction at Maxar Technologies, is scheduled for launch in 2021. Until then, Hughes will be looking to Central and South America for growth while maintaining monthly subscriber revenue and controlling customer churn in the United States.
Its Latin American business does not have that problem. Hughes has leased capacity on Telesat and Eutelsat Ka-band satellites for the Latin American business, which started in Brazil and has since expanded into Colombia, Peru, Equador and Chile.
Hughes reported revenue of $445 million for the first three months of 2019, up 11% from a year earlier on the strength of its consumer broadband and and international enterprise VSAT business. Its U.S. enterprise VSAT operations reported a decline in revenue.
Hughes’s EBITDA was $161 million, for an EBITDA margin of 36%, up from 34% a year earlier.
Hughes President Pradman P. Kaul, in a May 8 conference call with investors, said the company’s recent joint-venture deals with United Arab Emirates satellite fleet operator Yahsat, for Brazilian consumer broadband; and with Bharti Airtel of India for Indian government and commercial VSAT operations are examples of Hughes’s strategy of partnering around the world.
The company has entered a partnership with Facebook to use Facebook’s Express Wi-Fi in Mexico. In Indonesia, it is partnering with satellite operator PSN to deploy 2,000 rural Wi-Fi hotspots.
As of March 31, EchoStar had $3.3 billion in cash.