In announcing a new name, new direction, and new marketing strategy that puts more emphasis on services and content and less on low price, Dish did a remarkably good job of obscuring a salient point; the digital divide still exists, and because it does a less-than-enthralling broadband offer looks like it should have legs. Dish used CES to promote a whole-home Kangaroo-themed client-server set-top combo (Hopper and its sidekick Joey) with tuners that can handle 6 HD recordings at once and a hard drive deep enough to swallow 2,000 hours of HD programming in a single gulp. It said that it would use broadband connections to further expand its content options. And then it added the boilerplate qualifier of every satellite service … with a twist.
If consumers don’t have a broadband connection (and really they only would if they had cable or a telco service) Dish will feed down tons of programming from satellite to that deep dish hard drive so there is the semblance of a rich programming trough. But if Dish customers want a broadband connection as well, the satellite provider would deliver it through a cooperative agreement with ViaSat. The two would provide 12 Mbps of data throughput via satellite for under $80 a month, about $60 of which would be for the broadband and the rest for a tier of Dish video.
Dish is confident that 8 million to 10 million heartland households will buy in because broadband access is worth it. It is again an indication that IP is the pipe of the future and that every service provider–wireline, satellite, and even wireless–has to climb aboard the IP bandwagon.