Australians in rural and remote areas are a step closer to receiving high-speed broadband with the announcement that Arianespace, the European satellite launch company, has been selected to propel Australia’s NBN (National Broadband Network) satellites into space.
The contract, worth up to $300 million, was awarded following a two-year procurement process. The satellites will allow access to fast internet to up to 200,000 homes, farms and businesses in remote parts of the country at download speeds of up to 25 Mbps.
NBN Co Chief Executive Officer Mike Quigley said: “The NBN satellite service is key to bridging the divide between the city and the bush. It will give people in the outback, remote regions and Australia’s overseas territories access to economic and social opportunities that the rest of us take for granted. For instance, faster speeds will allow people in regional communities to work from home like they would from the office, access video-based health services and make high-quality video calls to family and friends.
“Just as importantly, the NBN is helping to foster real competition in communications in the bush. That drives affordable prices for consumers. Every broadband provider on the NBN has equal access to the network and NBN Co’s wholesale prices to broadband providers are no different in the city or the bush.”
According to Jean-Yves Le Gall, Chairman and CEO of Arianespace: “We are proud to be part of Australia’s National Broadband Network project that will help deliver much-needed high-speed broadband services to communities in regional and remote areas of this vast island continent. Arianespace has led the launch services industry with many operational firsts and numerous record setting missions.”
Two purpose-built communications satellites, currently under construction in California by Space Systems/Loral, will lift off aboard two 777 tonne Ariane 5 heavy-lift rockets which will deliver the payloads into geostationary orbit to serve Australia. The two launches from the European spaceport in French Guiana, situated on the equator on the Atlantic coast of South America, are scheduled during 2015.
The contract follows the recent announcement that NBN Co is planning to boost wholesale Internet speeds available to rural and remote Australia. A higher speed tier is planned to offer wholesale download speeds to broadband providers over satellite and fixed-wireless of up to 25 Mbps and upload speeds of up to 5 Mbps – five times higher than the upload speeds and four times higher than the download speeds available on today’s NBN Interim Satellite Service.
Quigley said the faster speed tier is planned to be available over the Fixed Wireless network as early as June this year and over the Long Term Satellite service when it launches in 2015.
So he great NBN rollout rolls on. Amid all the argy bargy and political posturing. NBN Co continues to lock in contracts. The satellites will be an important part of the infrastructure.