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Ergen looks to expand broadband

EchoStar Communications Corp. chairman Charlie Ergen intends to step up Hughes Electronics Corp.'s Spaceway broadband service if his company's $26 billion
merger with Hughes' DirecTV Inc. goes through.

"It's very important for EchoStar to have a
very strong Internet product to compete with cable companies," EchoStar spokesman Marc Lumpkin said, affirming Ergen's plans to aggressively roll out satellite two-way
broadband service.

But he could not confirm a report that Ergen would infuse Spaceway with $1

General Motors Corp. subsidiary Hughes has already invested $1.4 billion in

The satellite-broadband product currently costs more than cable modem and
digital-subscriber-line alternatives.

The Federal Communications Commission recently initiated its review of
EchoStar's bid to purchase DirecTV.

The two companies asserted that the merger would give consumers more choice and
positively influence competition among pay TV providers.

If approved, the combined direct-broadcast satellite systems would have 16.7 million