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EchoStar Contacts Retailers on StarBand Moves

Saying it's best for retailers to develop a direct relationship with StarBand, EchoStar told a number of its dealers last week that they are on their own in dealing with the satellite Internet company.

In a letter dated Thursday, EchoStar told retailers that they soon will be able to buy satellite Internet equipment directly from StarBand. However, the satellite TV company added, "Should your company decide to purchase directly from StarBand, please understand that such purchases are completely independent of your relationship with DISH Network or EchoStar."

EchoStar went on to say that it will not be involved in incentive or compensation payments, customer billing, customer support or technical support for the StarBand service. In addition, the company said it will not have information about any transactions involving StarBand, and installations of StarBand service must be on a different antenna than the antenna used for EchoStar's DISH Network satellite TV service.

Since its debut in 2000, StarBand has struggled to enroll customers for its satellite broadband service. About 40,000 customers were signed up as of late last year, the company said.

There was no official comment on the letter from EchoStar as of late Friday.

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