Hughes Network Systems touts SD-WAN as option for cash-strapped federal agencies

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By Sean Buckley

Hughes Network Systems is using its presence in the public sector, where government agencies are looking to rein in costs but also provide higher bandwidth for their user community, to offer software-defined wide area networking services (SD-WAN).

Depending on network availability, SD-WAN can fit the low-cost bill for government agencies as the connections at each site leverage traditional DSL, cable or even Hughes’ own satellite services.

The service provider can take an agency’s address and put it into a mapping system where it can generate a report on what broadband is available at their site. After finding the necessary broadband option for each location, Hughes will equip each site with a network router and provide an online portal that gives the customer a view of network performance.

Tony Bardo, AVP of government solutions for Hughes, told FierceTelecom that as a managed service, the service provider can perform not only procure necessary broadband circuits but also monitor and remedy any potential issues.

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“When I say we manage it we can tell if there might be an outage when they’re asleep at night and fix it or we identify it,” Bardo said. “We can do all of those things that customers only used to be able to get only on their MPLS networks and now they’re getting it with broadband.”

Custom-fit broadband

Since large government agencies have multiple sites stretched across a diverse set of geographic locations, Hughes will craft a plan that takes into consideration every network service option.  

In some cases, particularly remote locations, the service provider will also present satellite services as an option.

“For some remote customers, those sites are a satellite site, and that customer gets the best available network crafted site by site with the needs of each site in mind,” Bardo said. “Customers don’t want 5 Mbps anymore and 25 Mbps speeds are hot.”

In addition to public sector, Hughes Network Systems supplies SD-WAN and other related services to banks and retailers. A number of the largest gas station chains leverage Hughes’ satellite services today to transmit credit card transactions, for example.   

The company said it has an estimated 70% of the gas and oil business today as well as deep penetration into fast food and drug store chains.

“The ideal customer for Hughes is one that that has a single organization or franchise and multiple locations,” Bardo said. “We don’t care about carrier boundaries because we use them all and we don’t care about where you are because we use satellite.”  

Easing GSA Networx to EIS transition

In targeting government sector agencies, Hughes is delivering SD-WAN services to agencies as a subcontractor to Level 3 on the General Services Administration's (GSA) Networx contract.

Bardo said that its relationship with Level 3 and SD-WAN overall will give public sector customers another option as they transition to the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) contract, the follow-on to Networx.

“The advent of the new EIS contract and the agencies needed to move off of Networx offers opportunity,” Bardo said. “It is an opportunity for that agency to go for like-for-like services or the opportunity to transform and take advantage of the new technology like SD-WAN, which will give them more for less.”

Bardo said that although government agencies will have to operate with less, their users will expect to have the bandwidth to conduct business every day.  

“Going forward with the new budget pressures they face, government agencies can’t keep doing the same thing because their users won’t stand for it,” Bardo said. “People in the field need bandwidth and they need a lot more than they needed a year ago and that’s not going to change.”

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