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US firm wins $620m NBN satellite contract

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Posts: 36
Feb 20th, 2012 at 5:25am  
NBN Co has issued a $620 million satellite construction contract to California-based company Space Systems/Loral.

Two Ka-band satellites are due to be launched in 2015 and will be used exclusively by NBN Co to provide broadband services to Australians in 3 per cent of premises in remote regions, including Norfolk Island, Christmas Island, Macquarie Island and the Cocos Islands.

"The satellites will be built in California in the United States and will both be launched about six months apart in 2015," Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said in Canberra this morning.

Satellite services would cost the same as fibre or fixed-wireless services, which are being built to the remaining 97 per cent of premises in Australia.

"It is a cross-subsidy built into the NBN that makes this affordable, world-class remote broadband system possible," Senator Conroy added.

The opposition said the federal government had opted for an unnecessary ‘‘Rolls-Royce’’ communications system.

‘‘Don’t buy yourself a Camry, a Falcon - buy yourself a Rolls-Royce, a Bentley,’’ opposition communications spokesman Malcolm Turnbull told reporters in Canberra today.

‘‘Nothing but the best will do, nothing but the most expensive will do.’’

About 2500 homes were already using NBN Co's interim satellite services after NBN Co leased capacity on existing satellites. However having its own exclusive satellites would enable NBN Co to ensure it could provide high-speed and high-capacity broadband to an anticipated 200,000 customers. Two satellites were needed to keep services going if one satellite broke down.

Senator Conroy said no Australian companies were selected because "there were no Australian satellite manufacturers" and that there were only five satellite manufacturers worldwide which made the type of satellites which NBN Co. needs.

Total investment in satellite services is expected to be $2 billion once NBN Co pays for rockets to launch the satellites and construction of ground systems.

“NBN Co's satellites have been designed to deliver initial peak speeds of 12 megabits per second download and 1 megabit per second upload at the wholesale level for the same wholesale access price as similar fibre services. It will be possible for retail service providers to offer services to homes and businesses in the satellite footprint that are as good or better than the services many city people currently experience," NBN Co chief executive Mike Quigley said today.

“NBN Co is providing an open access network which is expected to deliver competition amongst retail service providers because it is provided on a non-discriminatory basis. This in turn has the potential to lead to lower prices and innovation for consumers – including those in geographically isolated areas.”

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Eric Johnston
Senior Member

Posts: 2109
Reply #1 - Feb 21st, 2012 at 9:52am  
These Ka band multi-spot beam satellites are certainly expensive (two satellites $620M, two launches $500-600M, plus ground segment costs = $2000M total).  Assuming the number of customers increases from zero to 200,000 over 15 years and the average number is 120,000 then the cost per month per customer is $92 which is rather more than the $24 they intend to charge. Thank goodness for cross-subsidies from MBN Co's terrestrial cable/wireless customers!

Might they consider starting the spare satellite in an approx 12 deg inclined orbit with a view to it reducing to 0 inclination after 15 years when it can take over from the initial satellite and then serve for a further 15 years with stationkeeping, assuming the first satellite does not fail?.  If the first satellite fails they can quickly use the fuel that would otherwise have been expended during the initial launch to a normal inclination.

Best regards, Eric.
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« Last Edit: Feb 22nd, 2012 at 1:34pm by Admin1 »  
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