NBN Co announces $689m satellite deal

Fiona Chau
09 Feb 2012

NBN Co, the company established to implement Australia’s next-generation broadband network, has awarded Space Systems/Loral (SS/L) a contract worth A$640 million ($689 million) to build and deliver two next-generation Ka-band satellites to cover rural and remote Australia.

The satellites will provide high-speed broadband coverage to around 3% of premises outside the reach of the NBN’s fiber optic and fixed-wireless services, including outback areas and Australia’s external territories such as Norfolk Island, Christmas Island, Macquarie Island and the Cocos Islands, NBN Co said in a statement.

The contract follows a two-year procurement process undertaken by NBN Co. It forms part of a total investment of approximately A$2 billion that is required to deliver the NBN Long Term Satellite Service (LTSS), which is designed to provide a basic download speed of up to 12Mbps at the wholesale level for the same wholesale access price as similar fiber services.

As part of the contract, SS/L will also supply associated telemetry, tracking and command systems for NBN Co’s LTSS.

Two more tenders for the delivery of other components of the LTSS will be awarded soon. NBN Co is appraising supplier submissions for the construction of satellite ground systems and will release a tender within the next few months for the launch of the SS/L satellites into orbit.

The satellites and ground-based control systems are expected to be delivered over the next 41 months, with the first satellite launch planned in early 2015 and the second in the second half of the same year.

Before that, NBN Co is operating an Interim Satellite Service that it had established to enable the transition from the Commonwealth’s Australian Broadband Guarantee program to the LTSS. The Interim Satellite Service provides download speeds of up to 6 Mbps to retail service providers, with over 2500 premises already connected.

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