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Tuesday, 08 July 2008 12:38

NewSat renews push for new Aussie satellite

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NewSat (ASX: NWT) has reinforced its determination to launch its own satellite to provide communications services to the two percent of Australians beyond reach of the planned National Broadband Network (NBN).

NewSat first revealed the plan in a submission to the Government's Regional Telecommunication Independent Review Committee last year. It pointed out that its major competitors in this market, Optus and IPStar Optus and IPStar, "are both now ultimately owned by the Singapore Government."

NewSat has now lodged a final submission saying "NewSat repeats its dollar-for-dollar commitment, to a limit of $200million each, with the Australian Government and is confident of an expeditious commencement of the project with a launch date in 2011, subject to legals being transacted without undue delay." The original plan, however, was for a launch in late 2009.

Unlike NewSat's previous submissions, much of the latest one is commercial in confidence, and the public version adds little to what NewSat has previously submitted. However it does suggest that the use of satellite technology to provide positioning for precision farming could be a key application, in addition to communications.

NewSat notes that the latest submission "builds on precision farming details provided to some committee members in May 2008...NewSat has worked with THE Victorian State Government's Spatial Information Unit to develop world leading precision farming techniques provided by satellite at new levels of accuracy. This technology has been recognised for its ground-breaking solution and received awards from both the Victorian State Government innovation awards as well as ATUG

"This project is developing through further commitment to infrastructure from the Victorian State Government and its benefits will be available nationwide. They include not only minimising costs though reduced use of water, fuel and crop fertilisers etc, but the maximising of crop harvest and also minimising the run off of water, ie the process is water saving as well.

NewSat says that, since its initial submission, plans....are now well advanced and developed including all manner of market and technical analysis [and] one of the highlights, which should be recognised at this early stage, is the provision of 100 percent guarantee of risk mitigation available to investors/funders of the project."

Separately, NewSat has just announced completion, on time and on budge, of a whole-of-region- installation of a remote area communications project for the Australian Government and the Western Australian Department of Industry and Resources. NewSat has equipped 16 remote locations in the Kimberleys with satellite, wireless and hotspot areas for broadband communications. It says that "Some of these areas were so remote that access was only available by unscheduled barge trips."

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