Wal-Mart Will Now Sell Satellite Broadband Internet Access

Today, Wal-Mart announced that it will start re-selling HughesNet satellite broadband Internet access, starting at 700Kbps for $59.99 a month, through 2,800 of its stores “including locations throughout most of rural America where terrestrial broadband services, such as cable and DSL, are often not available.” To help spur initial sign-ups, Wal-Mart will give new customers $100 RFID-enabled “ExpressPay” cards to use while shopping at the retailer.

BusinessWeek wonders whether this will trigger the standard Wal-Mart cost-cutting war that leads to lower prices for consumers, or whether Wal-Mart will try to be more competitive through offering superior customer service—an area it hasn’t excelled at lately. As an example, they cite Wal-Mart’s successful flat-panel TV push last Christmas, which was a disaster for Circuit City and CompUSA, but led to many returns from Wal-Mart customers who were left on their own when it came to installation.

“Broadband Across America: Through Wal-Mart, Hughes Brings High-Speed Internet to Rural Communities” [press release]
“Wal-Mart’s Latest Sale: Broadband” [Business Week]
(Photo: Getty)

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  1. emona says:

    or whether Wal-Mart will try to be more competitive through offering superior customer service.

    Oh, you guys are a hoot!

  2. cosby says:

    While I guess it is nice to see them trying to expand some as they can help lower prices hughesnet is not the way to go. Know a few people that got screwed by them when they decided to cut the amount you could download in a day to 1/20 of what it was. Right now that basic plan allows you to download 200 megs a day. Once you hit that it will start to slow down past dialup. Takes a solid 24 hours to reset as well. Everyone I know that has it has to leave their machines off for a day or it will not reset. We have been replacing them with evdo cards and amps. Personaly given the choice of hughesnet or dial up I would stick with dial up. More reliable.

  3. Red_Eye says:

    Why doesnt WalMart just offer to let the CLEC’s setup min DSLAMS in every Walmart for DSL service. Lord knows there are more Walmart stores than RT’s. {../sarcasm}

  4. graphicwave says:

    GOOD LORD! What a rip off! My internet access is 6mbps for only $40 a month.

  5. @graphicwave: Considering persons across the pacific can get 100mbps both ways for $33.99 in Hong Kong and $36.58 in Japan, who’s the one really getting ripped off here?

    [www.washingtonpost.com]

  6. Darren W. says:

    It’s hardly a ripoff, that’s standard pricing for satellite broadband, no matter what company you use. WalMart seems like the perfect vehicle to get those services to the people in the middle of nowhere, where they need them most. Can you imagine what it will do to their customer base, though, when they discover the interwebs, and the ability to shop online and stuff even cheaper than WalMart prices, and save themselves the hour drive to the nearest supercenter?

  7. Adam291 says:

    I bet there’s a little Chinese child in the satellite earning 3 cents a day.

  8. Saboth says:

    Actually, that is a ripoff, regardless of how much the industry standard is for that product. $60 a month for 700 KBS (they also fail to mention the 1-2 seconds of latency that is just inherent with satellite which completely negates the ability to do *any* type of online competitive gaming.

  9. pestie says:

    @Saboth: The actual satellite latency is only about 250ms, if I remember correctly (and I think that’s total round-trip time, not just one way), but yes, it still kills gaming. But for a lot of us, “competitive gaming” isn’t exactly at the top of the ol’ priority list.

    I would use satellite internet service, but only there was no other option aside from dialup. Limits like 200MB a day absolutely kill someone like me, who often wants to download a Linux distribution CD/DVD image, for example.

  10. MYarms says:

    I wonder if Walmart will block access to sites that they don’t deem appropriate. Did anyone ever think about that possibility?

  11. Klitaka says:

    Ooh. HughesNet is no fun at all.

    The place I lived and worked this summer used HughesNet for business, and it was terrible. We had the system shutdown several times when we went over the cap (375 MiB/24 hours), which would effectively shut down the entire office for 24 hours. No web. Not even e-mail. Dead. It was horrible.

    Honestly, I’d rather use dialup, becasue at least dialup is consistent. With Hughes net, sometimes things would load nice and quickly. Most of the time, though, links would lag. Sometimes, they didn’t even load at all.

  12. JustAGuy2 says:

    @Saboth:

    The customer for this service is someone who can’t get DSL or cable modem at home (or, can get one of the two, but is an idiot). It’s slower and more expensive than either, but it’s a hell of a lot faster than dialup.

  13. TVarmy says:

    The more I think about it, the more I think it would be a good idea to set up a wide area wireless network around every Walmart. They certainly have the money and the resources to do so, and they already own the property. Anything they can do to make their lot more productive is good in my mind.

    I don’t like Walmart for their ethics and the sprawl they produce, but so long as they exist, they might as well give back something positive every once in a while. The last mile has been around way too long, and widespread, semi-affordable broadband is a good thing.