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Six months after trying to exit the satellite business, Optus has signed a $19.5 million contract with the Department of Defence to extend its current satellite deal for four years.

The new agreement builds upon Optus’s existing satellite engagement with Defence since the launch of the Optus C1 satellite in 2003. The Department of Defence will utilise its existing satellite payload and capability on C1 to support its Australian and regional operations.

Paul Sheridan, vice president of Optus Satellite, said: “Today’s announcement reaffirms our position as Australia’s leading satellite operator. We’re proud of our role in continuing to support the Department of Defence in its satellite communications requirements.”

That’s not what he was saying this time last year, when Optus was trying to sell its satellite business. It couldn’t find a buyer, and decided in August to retain it. Since then it has won the contract to maintain the NBN satellite service, and now this major contract is being renewed.

The satellite services contract involves command and control of the Optus C1 Defence payload, as well as the provision of professional satellite support services for the Department’s wider satellite capability.

Air Commodore Nick Barneveld, of Defence’s Chief Information Officer Group (CIOG) said, “Signing this contract extends Defence’s long and strong relationship with Optus in delivering satellite communications services. Our people will continue to work together to ensure our military forces can stay connected and informed as they operate across Australia’s vast distances and beyond.”

The C1 satellite was jointly funded by Optus and the Australian Department of Defence, and at the time was the largest hybrid communications and military satellite launched. It is controlled from Optus’s satellite earth station in the Sydney suburb of Terrey Hills.

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Graeme Philipson

Graeme Philipson is senior associate editor at iTWire and editor of sister publication CommsWire. He is also founder and Research Director of Connection Research, a market research and analysis firm specialising in the convergence of sustainable, digital and environmental technologies. He has been in the high tech industry for more than 30 years, most of that time as a market researcher, analyst and journalist. He was founding editor of MIS magazine, and is a former editor of Computerworld Australia. He was a research director for Gartner Asia Pacific and research manager for the Yankee Group Australia. He was a long time IT columnist in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, and is a recipient of the Kester Award for lifetime achievement in IT journalism.

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