In a deal worth more than $175 million, Cable & Wireless Optus will transmit the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's (ABC) digital TV signals.
Under the terms of the 10-year agreement, Optus will carry the ABC's digital transmission via satellite to potentially 240 sites across Australia.
Optus said the service would allow regional and rural viewers, who make up around half the Australian population, to receive the ABC's new digital television programs with the same quality broadcast as city viewers.
The satellite service will commence on 1 July 2001 and will follow the regional rollout in line with the federal Government's digital TV implementation schedule.
Digital television commenced in the five mainland capital cities (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth) on 1 January 2001.
Outside of the major metropolitan areas, regional broadcasters must begin digital transmissions by no later than 1 January 2004. A timetable for remote areas is yet to be determined.
Optus has subcontracted ntl Australia to install and operate downlinks at the sites.ntl already works with the ABC to deliver their terrestrial digital TV, and Optus has been working with the national broadcaster for more than 15 years.