GERMANTOWN, Md./AgPRonline/ — Hughes Network Systems (HNS), the world’s largest provider of broadband satellite network solutions, and Chicago-based AgriStar Global Networks, Ltd. announced today an agreement to provide DIRECWAY(R) two-way, high-speed satellite communications services to the U.S. agricultural industry.

Under the terms of the contract, HNS will utilize its nationwide DIRECWAY service and deliver AgriStar a comprehensive broadband network solution, including all satellite equipment and related provisioning, operational and support capabilities.  AgriStar will offer its wide range of premium agricultural information and business services to customers throughout the food and fiber chain, including leading farm operators, input suppliers,
processors, food companies and other agri-businesses.  DIRECWAY will enable AgriStar to deliver information such as real-time and delayed multicast audio and video streaming at multi-megabits per second to its customers anywhere in the country.  Plans also are underway to develop similar AgriStar networks in other countries.

“The need to facilitate rapidly increasing flows of information in global agriculture has greatly increased as farms have grown in size and complexity,” said Cliff Ganschow, chairman of AgriStar Global Networks.

“Having Hughes as a long-term partner in developing our AgriStar network will enable us to
deliver world-class business services that will be unsurpassed in both content and technology.”

While urban businesses have benefited from broadband delivery, top farmers and other rural businesses have been restricted to poor quality, low-speed dial-up telephone connections.  “AgriStar will bridge the digital divide between the country’s leading farm operators and their primary trade partners with connection speeds of 10-20 times faster than the existing dial-up connections in most of these rural areas,” Ganschow said.

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“Hughes is excited to team with AgriStar in this important vertical market,” said Ned Kazor, senior director of Channel Sales for HNS.  “The food and fiber system is a large and growing industry, and because it is so fragmented and dispersed, AgriStar will dramatically improve how information and business services are delivered throughout rural areas.”

“As the agricultural industry continues to move toward a more vertically coordinated production and distribution system, the data needs of its major segments are growing exponentially,” said Ganschow.

“From value-enhanced commodities to biotechnology to food security, there is a critical need today for the industry to be able to track food production and distribution to the end consumer.  AgriStar will provide an ideal communications platform on which to build the systems that will allow these requirements to be met.”


DIRECWAY is the world’s leading broadband by satellite service for consumer, small business and enterprise markets.  Consumers anywhere in the continental U.S. can get DIRECWAY high-speed Internet service from major providers including EarthLink, AOL, Pegasus, NRTC and DIRECTV. Enterprises have access to a wide variety of value-added solutions, all on a single
platform and all backed by comprehensive support from HNS, to give companies the edge they need in today’s market.  To learn more about DIRECWAY, please visit .

About Hughes Network Systems

Hughes Network Systems, a unit of Hughes Electronics Corporation, is the world’s largest provider of broadband satellite network solutions for businesses and consumers, with approximately 500,000 systems installed in more than 85 countries.  HNS pioneered the development of high-speed satellite Internet access services, which it markets globally under the DirecPC(R) and DIRECWAY(R) brands.  It recently earned the Frost & Sullivan Market
Engineering Leadership Award for the second consecutive year and the 2001 CES “Best of Show” Award for workstyle/internet categories.  HNS is also a leading manufacturer of DIRECTV(R) satellite television receivers, having shipped over 7 million to date.

Headquartered in Germantown, Maryland, USA, HNS maintains sales and support offices worldwide.  The earnings of HUGHES, a unit of General Motors Corporation, are used to calculate the earnings per share attributable to the General Motors Class H common stock (NYSE: GMH).  To learn more about HNS and DIRECWAY, please visit our websites: or .

About AgriStar Global Networks

AgriStar Global Networks, Ltd. is a new satellite-based communications company established to bridge the large connectivity gap between the world’s leading farm operations and their primary trade partners in the $4 trillion global food and fiber chain.  The Company’s objective is to become the primary agricultural electronic information and commerce provider by integrating the world’s leading commercial farms, agribusinesses and food companies into
a single two-way, high-speed proprietary satellite network system. AgriStar’s initial strategic partners include Rural Press, Ltd. of Australia, the world’s largest agricultural communications company, London-based Merial Limited, the global leader in animal health, and Chicago-based Global Land, Ltd., an agricultural investment and development firm.

AgriStar has a 50-year history through related forerunner entities of developing some of the agricultural industry’s pioneering communications and business advisory programs.  These have included the Top Farmers of America Association in the 1960’s, the first organization to provide business services for leading farm operations; Farm Futures in the 1970’s, the industry’s first risk management publication; AgriData Resources in the 1980’s, the first
national computer network linking top farms; and American Land Resources in the 1990’s, the first investment banking entity to utilize national farmland databases to assemble investment-grade agricultural land funds.

Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, AgriStar also maintains an operations center in St. Paul, Minnesota.  To learn more about AgriStar, please visit .