Optus targets SMBs with satellite continuity service

Australian telco Optus is offering its satellite services for SMBs to use in the event of a fibre network outage to keep their communications operational.

Optus has announced that it is opening up its satellite business continuity solution to small and medium-sized business (SMB) customers, providing them with a satellite alternative to switch over to in order to keep communications and core business applications running during a network outage.

The Optus Satellite Business Continuity service will now facilitate SMBs to run their everyday communications services as normal over ADSL, microwave, and 3G/4G fibre connections, and then switch over to satellite services during "network disruptions" where services would normally shut down, such as in cases of hardware failure, human error, fibre damage, and severe weather.

"We have listened to the concerns of our many small to medium business customers about the importance of continuing to trade at all times," Paul Sheridan, vice president of Optus Satellite, said on Friday morning.

"We know that they often don't have the opportunity to access the infrastructure and resources for a tailored business continuity program, despite being equally, if not more, exposed to outages compared with the top end of town."

The telco said its satellite link now provides a "safety net" for SMBs in addition to large companies, with the service to remain in use for however long it takes for traditional IT infrastructure to regain power.

"We have developed this service with flexibility in mind," Sheridan added. "In the event of a crisis or business disruption, customers can choose to activate the service based on their business need."

Optus last month had the Australian Department of Defence extend its contract through to 2020 for use of their shared C1 satellite.

The department and Optus had initially collaborated to fund, build, and launch the C1 satellite in 2003, with Optus making use of the Ku-band and Defence making use of its Ka-band, UHF, and X-band frequencies for coverage across APAC.

Although Optus had briefly considered selling off its satellite division in 2013, it then extended the satellite's services to 2018 by signing a AU$19.5 million contract renewal with Defence in 2014.

Optus has not disclosed the value of its 2020 satellite contract with Defence.

"The extension of this important agreement to the satellite's end of life reinforces this important relationship with Optus," Commodore David Greaves, commander of Defence Strategic Communications in the Defence Chief Information Officer Group, said in a statement in July.

Optus' satellite division also brokered a deal with the company charged with rolling out Australia's National Broadband Network (NBN) in February last year, with the federal government providing millions of dollars in funding for the new project.

The government last week revealed that the launch date for the first of the two new AU$620 million Ka-band satellites would be October 1, with commercial services availability expected within the first six months of 2016. The second satellite is planned for launch in 2016.

The two new satellites will enable high-speed broadband access for the 3 percent of the Australian population not living within the fixed-wireless, fibre, and hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) NBN network footprint, and will replace the interim satellite service put in place by the former Labor government -- which has seen so many sign-ups that broadband speeds for satellite customers slowed to a crawl.

The new satellite service, once launched, will have each IP address' usage capped to prevent capacity being outstripped by demand again.

"We will institute a new stringent fair use policy to ensure a minority of very heavy users cannot crowd out the majority," Australian Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull said in March last year.

Turnbull has lauded the launch of the new satellites, saying they will provide higher speeds for those living in regional and remote areas.

"The NBN long-term satellite service will be a game changer for those living in the bush, and will help bridge the digital divide currently experienced by many," Turnbull said last week.

"These next-generation Ka-band satellites will deliver world-class performance and peak speeds of up to 25 megabits per second regardless of where people live."

Optus last week announced its financial results for the second quarter of 2015, reporting a year-on-year increase in net profit of 19.5 percent, from AU$164 million during the same period last year up to AU$196 million this year.

Operating revenue was AU$2.3 billion for the second quarter of 2015; an 11.3 percent year-over-year growth in constant currency, while earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) grew by 7.3 percent; from AU$597 million in the three months to June last year, to AU$641 million this year.

"This quarter's results underscore the strength of Optus' business fundamentals," Optus CEO Allen Lew said in a statement.

"We are well positioned to capture future growth opportunities by bringing together our competitive advantage in customer experience with our renewed focus on driving innovations that entertain customers and enhance their lives."

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