NBN Co awards over $300 million in contracts to Optus and IPSTAR

The NBN Co has awarded contracts to Optus and Thaicom subsidiary, IPASTAR Australia (IPA), worth $215.34 million and over $107.67 million respectively, to aid its satellite projects.

Optus will be responsible for managing its Interim Satellite Service while IPA will provide additional satellite capacity.

These contracts come as part of the Australian company’s plan to connect the more remote and isolated areas of mainland Australia and Tasmania to its broadband network. The five year contracts with Optus and IPA are designed to provide the 7% of the population that remain unconnected with a network capable of peak download speeds of 6Mbps using satellite or terrestrial wireless technology.

The NBN Co’s overall aim is to eventually launch two satellites in 2015 enabling rural and isolated areas of the country to receive a service with speeds of up to a 12Mbps.

Mike Quigley, CEO of NBN Co said: “This announcement is a major step towards reducing the digital divide between those Australians who live in the city and those in the bush.” The new connectivity in these regions is expected to aid these once isolated communities in terms of business, health, educations and government services.

Satellites are the most economic method of connecting the remaining population explained Paul Budde founder and analyst from research firm BuddeComm. “(Satellites) are the only way to get high-speed broadband to the last 2-3% of Australians. Linking remote houses and farms often hundreds of kilometres from towns is otherwise economically unviable,” he said.

Trials of the new service will begin this month with plans for the service to be available by July this year. The NBN Co is still finalising contracts for its fixed wireless services that should be available from mid 2012.

Thaicom CEO Arak Cholatanon said: ““The NBN Co Interim Satellite service really demonstrates what can be achieved in Asia Pacific when governments proactively address rural and remote user’s needs.”

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