EchoStar plugged a hole in its satellite-based service portfolio with an agreement on Monday to acquire Hughes Communications for $1.32 billion in cash and the assumption of roughly $700 million in debt. An affiliate of direct broadcast satellite service operator DISH Network, EchoStar provides satellite equipment and television set-top boxes to DISH customers but lacks the ability to offer broadband data and Internet services through its own network. Hughes provides satellite-based broadband video and data transport services to enterprise customers and is slated to launch an additional satellite next year that will enable the company to boost the speed of its broadband offerings. In the words of one analyst, Monday’s agreement gives Charles Ergen, the chairman of both EchoStar and DISH, “a consumer broadband solution that can be bundled with DISH’s video product.” In addition to providing DISH and EchoStar with an enterprise customer base, the deal also enables EchoStar to combine its set-top box business with Hughes’ line of hardware networking products. The pact also follows on DISH’s agreement early this month to acquire bankrupt mobile satellite service provider DBSD North America in a $1 billion deal that has the potential to further diversify DISH’s and EchoStar’s service portfolios. Under the terms of the deal, stockholders of Hughes will receive a cash payment of $60.70 per share, representing a 31% premium over Hughes’ closing share price as of January 19. Contingent upon receipt of FCC and other required regulatory approvals, the parties expect to close the transaction later this year. As Hughes CEO Pradman Kaul proclaimed that the agreement “brings together the two premier providers of satellite communications services,” EchoStar CEO Michal Dugan predicted that the deal will “create a powerful leader in video and data transport.”