NBN Co has signed a $620 million deal with US communications giant Loral to develop two Ka-band satellites for the satellite-broadband component of the of the National Broadband Network (NBN) roll-out.
How the satellite will look.
(Credit: NBN Co)
The satellite portion of the NBN will be up and running by 2015, and will cater to almost half of the final 7 per cent of Australia not covered by the fibre roll-out, as well as external territories of Norfolk Island, Christmas Island, Macquarie Island and the Cocos Islands. It is expected to provide broadband services for 200,000 premises at download speeds of 12 megabits per second.
The negotiations with various satellite providers took place over two years, and the contract is part of a $2 billion investment for the satellite service.
In addition to delivering the satellite service, Loral will also be providing telemetry, tracking and command systems for the satellite service.
The deal was announced this morning at a press conference by Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Communications Minister Stephen Conroy.
The first satellite will be launched in early 2015, and the second satellite is planned to be launched six months later.
NewSat reportedly complained to the Australian Financial Review that the deal wasn't given to an Australian company, such as NewSat, which is planning to launch its Jabiru-1 satellite in 2014. Conroy said that although NewSat is an Australian company, the Jabiru-1 satellite is being constructed for it by US defence giant Lockheed Martin.
"There are only five companies in the world that can build these satellites," he said; three in the US, and two in Europe.
NBN Co CEO Mike Quigley declined to reveal unsuccessful bidders, stating that information is commercially in confidence.
Gillard said that the satellites have not been named, but indicated that the government may hold a competition to name them.
NBN Co indicated that there are two more tenders as part of the satellite service yet to be awarded, but said that these will be announced soon.
"NBN Co is evaluating supplier submissions for the construction of satellite ground systems, and in coming months will release a tender for the launch of the satellites into orbit," NBN Co said in a statement.
Currently, NBN Co has an interim satellite solution in place for the households set to receive satellite NBN services. The interim service can provide download speeds of 6 megabits per second.