Optus providing satellites for Early Warning Network

The developer of the Early Warning Network has signed a deal to provide remote communications across Australia using Optus' satellites and the SatSleeve+.

Optus' satellite division has signed an agreement with Early Warning Network (EWN) developer and operator Aeeris to implement remote worker solutions across the country using satellite services and the Thuraya SatSleeve+.

Aeeris' EWN is a "multi-channel geographic notification and information system" that maps live data on natural disasters such as severe weather, fire, and geo-spatial hazards. Operating since 2007, it aims to provide disaster awareness, ensure customers' personal and employee safety, and enable asset protection and risk management in the event of a disaster.

"The technology allows clients of Aeeris to track and monitor a very large number of users and communicate immediately with the users, particularly about events which affect their safety," Paul Sheridan, vice president of Optus Satellite, explained.

The EWN is used by enterprise and government customers, who will now be able to make calls and send messages via satellite connectivity by using their regular smartphone.

Optus last year claimed that its mobile network covers 100 percent of Australia thanks to the launch of its SatSleeve satellite service.

Satellite communications company Thuraya supplies the SatSleeve+ and SatSleeve Hotspot to Optus customers, providing them with mobile services all over Australia as long as the customer is within line of sight of the satellite.

The SatSleeve+ connects across most smartphones, turning them into satellite phones when using the iOS and Android SatSleeve app. The app automatically connects voice, SMS, and data users to satellite services when out of range of the traditional mobile network.

Optus' satellite division owns the highest number of satellites covering Australia and New Zealand, with six satellites in orbit providing coverage to the region.

The Australian government also relies upon Optus' satellite division; the Department of Defence last year extended its contract with Optus for an undisclosed amount through to 2020 for use of their shared C1 satellite.

The Department of Defence 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 also been turning its focus towards increasing mobile coverage in regional and remote areas of Australia, this week announcing an expansion of its 4G network in Canberra using the 1800MHz spectrum it secured during the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) auction earlier this year.

Services will be augmented across 10 sites in the Australian Capital Territory this month and 30 sites by the end of January 2017.

Optus spent AU$196 million -- the most out of all Australian telcos -- during the 1800MHz spectrum auction in February, securing four lots in the Australian Capital Territory (including the south coast of NSW) for AU$29.89 million; five lots in the Darwin area for AU$4.69 million; five lots in the North Queensland (Cairns/Townsville) area for AU$18.95 million; five lots in Central Queensland (Mackay) for AU$9.76 million; four lots in South Queensland (Maryborough) for AU$35.89 million; and five lots in Northern New South Wales (Grafton) for AU$14.23 million.

It also won five lots in Western NSW (Dubbo), paying AU$7.97 million; four lots in Southern NSW/Riverina (Albury), paying AU$11.29 million; four lots in Regional Victoria, paying AU$29.54 million; four lots in Tasmania, paying AU$16.77 million; five lots in Regional South Australia, paying AU$8.09 million; and four lots in Regional Western Australia, paying AU$5.64 million.

Optus said it intends to continue boosting more 4G areas using its 1800MHz spectrum across regional Australia and holiday destinations from May onwards.

Optus' 4G mobile network now provides coverage to 95 percent of the Australian population.