Australia sells satellite broadband into Iraq

It may still be the world's most dangerous place, but Iraq will soon be hooked up to a more affordable satellite broadband system than Australia following a $5 million deal between the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and Melbourne firm Multiemedia.

The deal covers the establishment of new communications infrastructure in Iraq to service the needs of US personnel, the local community, schools and what the company describes as "those helping establish law and order under local governance provisions".

With Iraqi civilian bandwidth archaic prior to the entry of the coalition forces, then "deconstructed" during their arrival, Web-starved US personnel will be also given access to the system for personal rather than military use

“There is only one service provider in the region providing any form of satellite service, and that is quite old. The US military will now be able to set up sites across Iraq and simply, by pointing their dish in the right direction, will have Internet and communication service equivalent to anywhere in the world," said Multiemedia CEO Adrian Ballintine - presumably referring to civilian capacity.

According to Multiemedia, the rollout will create around a dozen technical jobs for Australians.

While the company is not giving out technical specifications on the rollout, a maritime offering from the company in Australia through US provider Sea Tel offers a two-way data and phone transfer rate of 2Mbps

"A lot of companies want to conduct business in the Middle East but can’t because of the lack of IT services," Ballintine said.

Locally, Multiemedia has also inked a deal with retailer Woolworths to supply satellite broadband and associated hardware to around 700 locations through its NewSat service.

The company cites a portfolio of clients including eight sites for the Central Bank of Iran in addition to the Iranian Embassy in Kabul.

Trade Minister Mark Vaile hailed the deals as a boost for exports, adding that the government had been "actively assisting" Australian companies trying gain a foothold in Iraq.

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