First USSB, now PrimeStar
On completion of these transactions, DirecTV will have more than 7 million US subscribers, over 370 entertainment channels delivered via five high-power DBS spacecraft, and high-power DBS frequencies at each of the three orbital slots that provide full coverage of the continental US. Echostar Communications, with around 2 million customers, is now DirecTV's only DBS competitor.
According to Michael T. Smith, chairman and chief executive officer of Hughes Electronics, "We were the first to introduce high-power DBS service nearly five years ago, and our pending transactions with USSB, and now PrimeStar, will extend DirecTV's market leadership. With the addition of the Tempo high-power satellite assets, DirecTV is well positioned to capitalize on such emerging consumer services as high-definition television, data-enhanced broadcasting, and other interactive services."
PrimeStar currently operates a 160-channel medium-power service using leased satellite capacity. DirecTV says it will operate the medium-power PrimeStar business for a period of approximately two years, during which time it will transfer PrimeStar subscribers to the high-power DirecTV service. According to Hughes, PrimeStar's distribution network will continue servicing PrimeStar subscribers during this transition period, and it will begin to offer the DirecTV system to new subscribers.