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Loral set to build NBN Co satellites

Turnbull doesn't like it, again

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NBN Co has awarded Space Systems/Loral an $AU620 million contract to build, deliver and deploy two next-generation Ka-band satellites to cover regional Australia.

The tender follows a two-year procurement process undertaken by NBN Co and is part of a total investment of around $AU2 billion that is required to deliver the NBN Long Term Satellite Service. Pending agreements will cover the ground systems, end-user equipment and the space launch.

The cost of the satellites brought the inevitable enfilade of negativity from opposition communications minister Malcolm Turnbull who revealed a distressing void in his knowledge of international fibre infrastructure projects.

Speaking to the ABC's 7.30 Report last night, Turnbull said, “the fact is everyone is building broadband networks around the world and everywhere else they are doing it differently to us. They are doing it more cost effectively, they are using legacy infrastructure, the copper, the HFC, where they can without compromising the broadband objective, and the one thing nobody is doing, not one country, is building a massive new government-owned broadband monopoly.”

Except for Singapore, our closest neighbour. Singapore’s state owned fiber network has been deployed to 83 percent of all households and commercial buildings locally as of end-November 2011. Its NBN's network company, OpenNet, is on track to achieve the 95 percent deployment mark by mid-2012.

The satellites and ground-based control systems are expected to be delivered over the next 41 months, with the first satellite launch planned for early 2015 and the second planned for the second half of 2015.

As part of the contract, SS/L will also supply associated telemetry, tracking and command systems for NBN Co’s Long Term Satellite Service. The broadband satellites, which deliver more than 100 gigabits per second throughput, NBN Co 1A and 1B, are both Ka-band, high-throughput broadband satellites that use multiple spot beams in an advanced design that tailors capacity to Australia’s vastly distributed population. When launched they will provide service to some of the most remote places in Australia, as well as its coastal islands and external territories including Norfolk Island, Cocos Island, Christmas Island, and Macquarie Island in the Antarctic. ®

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