Department of Defence extends Optus satellite contract

The Australian Department of Defence will use Optus' C1 satellite to the end of its life in 2020, after signing a contract extension until then.

The Australian Department of Defence has agreed to an extension on its C1 satellite services contract with Optus, seeing out the satellite's life to 2020.

Optus and the Department of Defence first launched the C1 satellite in 2003, sharing the costs of building and launching the service. Optus operates commercial services on the C1 satellite in the Ku-band, while Defence uses the Ka-band, UHF, and X-band for communications across Australia and the Asia-Pacific region.

In 2014, the Department of Defence initially signed a AU$19.5 million contract renewal with Optus for services on the satellite out to 2018 -- the minimum life of the satellite -- but on Monday announced that the agreement had been extended out until 2020. Optus did not disclose the value of the contract extension.

Commodore David Greaves, Commander Defence Strategic Communications in the Defence Chief Information Officer Group, said that the 2003 satellite offered the Australian Defence Force "its first sovereign satellite communications capability".

"The extension of this important agreement to the satellite's end of life reinforces this important relationship with Optus," Greaves said in a statement.

In 2013, Optus considered selling off its satellite division, but opted to retain the business.

The company also secured a deal to operate NBN Co's long-term satellite service for up to 15 years, and has received millions from the government as NBN Co seeks to address capacity issues on the interim satellite service.