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Q&A: How Hughes' New EchoStar XIX broadband satellite will support public safety, FirstNet, and NG9-1-1

Author: Randall D. Larson

Copyright: Copyright 9-1-1 Magazine, Feature Content

Date: 2017-02-20
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Hughes recently lauched EchoStar XIX, the world’s highest capacity broadband satellite. Designed with Hughes JUPITER™ System technology, EchoStar XIX is a multi-spot beam, Ka-band satellite which in its final orbit will power HughesNet® Gen5, the next generation of the nation’s #1 high-speed satellite Internet service, delivering, Hughes reports, more speed, more data, and more advanced features for government agencies, such as SD-WAN and NG911. The enhanced speeds the new satellite will offer are expected to provide valuable services to state, local and federal government agencies.

9-1-1 Magazine recently interviewed Tony Bardo, Hughes assistant vice president government solutions, to get the inside scoop on how Echostar XIX will benefit emergency services and NG9-1-1.


Q: Hughes just launched the world’s highest-capacity broadband satellite, EchoStar XIX. It will help power the next generation of service from coast-to-coast. How specifically will this new service provide advanced wireless capabilities for 9-1-1 centers?

Tony Bardo: 9-1-1 call centers and PSAPs with a satellite back-up network will have true path diversity that will continue to support and connect calls, texts, images and videos from those in need, even when a primary network line goes down. This greater capacity will offer the speeds and data needed by PSAPs to continue to receive voice, text, image and video communications in the event of a network outage.

Q: What do 9-1-1 Communications Center Managers and public safety administrators need to know about harnessing this system for their 9-1-1 network and responders’ communications needs?

Tony Bardo: Our solution enables higher throughput than ever before so it can support large PSAPs with many positions. Path-diverse network redundancy is critical to keeping 9-1-1 operations online 24/7. This is because even when PSAPs have two land-based carrier lines, they often share the same pipes into the facility and thus, share much of the same risks. Satellite back-up can help cost-effectively mitigate network outage risks by providing an alternate, wireless network path.


Q: How will this new system interface with legacy broadband equipment currently in use by 9-1-1 Centers? Will it be as simple as connecting a dish or will a new interface be needed?

Tony Bardo: The satellite router is equipped with Ethernet and Wi-Fi. Most users find the system is “plug-and-play” with their existing equipment. For private dedicated networks, Hughes engineers work closely with 9-1-1 network administrators to integrate and test the system to achieve maximum performance over satellite. Once installed and verified, the satellite connection will automatically handle all current and new network traffic in the event of a primary network outage. Even when speaking with a 9-1-1 caller, if the primary line goes down, there will be little to no interruption on that call when the traffic re-routes over satellite. This capability was critical for our solution to be successful.

Q: What benefits might this system have in the development of something like FirstNet?

Tony Bardo: FirstNet will be able to use satellite to provide coverage in large areas of the country where it is impractical to implement ground-based telecom infrastructure or areas where infrastructure has been damaged or disabled. Hughes offers the only system in North America that can deliver the speeds required by a System on Wheels (SoW) at a reasonable cost using VSAT for primary connectivity or cellular backhaul. The system allows FirstNet to utilize SoWs and Vehicular Network Systems (VNS) by providing a rapid response deployment capability for emergency responders. Deployment time is reduced with automation features that can be deployed almost anywhere, any time.

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Q: What does this signify in terms of the ongoing technology development for broadband communications as it pertains to NG9-1-1 and other public safety communication systems? What’s next? What needs are yet to be met?

Tony Bardo: There will always be the need for more speed, more data, and for affordable bandwidth. Mobility will continue as a requirement to be supported and with our Aero solution using our JUPITER technology, there are applications like search and rescue as well as wild fire and disaster monitoring that we may look to support in the future. 

Satellite connectivity for NG9-1-1 and other public safety applications will continue to serve the need for back-up/overlay support to terrestrial-based networks and to bring high-speed service to hard-to-reach rural areas. The needs to be met are to deliver more of the same, only faster and more cost-effectively as our technology advances.


Tony Bardo has 29 years of experience with strategic communication technologies that serve the complex needs of government. Since joining Hughes Network Systems in January 2006, Bardo has served as assistant vice president of Government Solutions, where he is focused on providing Hughes satellite broadband applications solutions to Federal, State, and Local governments. Bardo also recently served as Chair of the Networks and Telecommunications Shared Interest Group (SIG) for the Industry Advisory Council, an advisory body to the American Council for Technology (ACT).  For more information on Hughes, see

Thanks to Donna Taylor Armstrong at Connelly Works for facilitating our chat with Mr. Bardo.

See Related story: “Will Congress Set the Tone for NG9-1-1?” by Tony Bardo (June, 2016)



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