Optus to take charge of NBN Co satellites

Optus to deliver control, tracking and telemetry services

NBN Co has awarded a five year contract to Optus to operate the two satellites that will deliver the Long Term Satellite Service for the National Broadband Network.

The five-year contract, which may be extended up to 15 years, covers tracking, telemetry and control services. Optus currently provides similar services to the NBN wholesaler.

The Long Term Satellite Service will succeed NBN Co's Interim Satellite Service and is intended to deliver Internet access to premises outside the areas covered by fixed wireless or fibre (or, under the government-owned company's new direction following the election of the Coalition, HFC).

The Interim Satellite Service, which launched in mid-2011, has suffered from capacity constraints. In August ISP iiNet withdrew its top-tier NBN satellite plan. A month later iiNet announced that it would cease selling Interim Satellite Service plans.

"NBN Co's Interim Satellite service reached capacity in December 2013 after 48,000 premises ordered a service," said Matt Dawson, head of NBN Co's satellite program.

"To be able to provide fast broadband to rural and remote areas of Australia, the launch of NBN Co's two new dedicated Long Term Satellites is crucial."

Some 200,000 premises will be served by the Long Term Satellite service. NBN Co's Ka-band satellites are due to launch in 2015.

In March last year SingTel announced it would conduct a strategic review of Optus' satellite business. Based on the review, SingTel committed itself to "growing and investing in the satellite business," the company said in an ASX statement.

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