The Battle of the Century

…well, only if you’re satellite Internet stockholder or junkie. It looks like HughesNet and WildBlue are ready to face off:

HughesNet and WildBlue now are positioned for a head-to-head contest for leadership of the U.S. satellite broadband market, say researchers at Northern Sky Research. Hughes has long held the title of leader in terms of subscriber base, reportedly with more than 400,000 clients, but WildBlue’s rate of growth to date has been faster than Hughes, NSR says.

WildBlue had 300,000 consumer broadband subscribers at the end of 2007 and is said to be growing faster than Hughes. Leading observers predict that market share will be nearly 50-50 by the end of 2008.

And, while WildBlue may be growing faster and offering cheaper entry level rates, HughesNet isn’t ready to concede its top-spot in the industry:

NSR researchers note, however, that the HughesNet Home Plan has a nominal upper download speed of 1 Mbps compared to 512 Kbps for WildBlue’s offering. Comparing higher speed plans, HughesNet’s services on the Spaceway-3 satellite now either meet or beat WildBlue’s offers, NSR says.

And HughesNet sure wanted everyone to know it. Shortly after the Northern Sky Research report was released, HughesNet sent out this press release, titled “HughesNet Feeds the Need for Speed: Subscribers Benefit from Faster Speeds at Same Low Prices.”

For more on the battle, check out the almost-always-informative forums at dslreports. And, in other HughesNet/WildBlue news, WildBlue recently announced a deal that gives WildBlue customers a deal on new Dell computers.