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Viasat lands NBN Co satellite tender

Hundreds of new jobs and satellite dishes set to follow

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In a move sure to spark another round of Australian supplier angst, US corporate and military satellite provider ViaSat Inc has secured NBN Co’s coveted regional satellite tender, valued at an initial $AU280 million.

The Long Term Satellite System is slated to begin commercial service in 2015 and cover around 200,000 premises outside the reach of the NBN fibre optic and fixed wireless services, including outback areas and Australia's external territories such as Norfolk Island, Christmas Island, Macquarie Island, and the Cocos Islands.

The contract ends a comprehensive two-year procurement process undertaken by NBN Co and is part of a total investment of around $AU2 billion in the Long Term Satellite Service.

The ViaSat system will be designed to offer NBN Co's retail service providers initial peak download speeds of 12 Mbps at the wholesale level. The gear to be manufactured includes satellite dishes that will be located at NBN Co’s ten ground stations; household satellite dishes and other receiving and transmitting equipment; and technology to be installed in NBN Co’s data centres to manage the integration of the satellite service with the rest of the NBN network.

"The rollout of Australia's NBN is the most comprehensive broadband plan in the world and we are excited to deliver part of the satellite ground portion," said Mark Dankberg, chairman and CEO of ViaSat Inc.

ViaSat has been operating in Australia for over a decade and has offices in Canberra and Sydney.

The contract win will also see the company open another office and significantly expand its local team. US executive Erwin Hudson will oversee ViaSat’s Australian operations for the NBN Co project.

"Beyond just supplying the ground system, we're looking forward to expanding our team in Australia and sharing the operational expertise we've gained in running our satellite services in North America for over seven years," said Hudson.

The contract with ViaSat is expected to lead to the creation of more than 300 local jobs including a workforce to install small satellite transmission equipment at homes and businesses, as well as IT workers to manage the project.

In February, NBN Co awarded a $AU620 million contract to Space Systems/Loral to build two leading edge Ka-band broadband satellites plus associated telemetry, tracking and command systems. A contract for the launch of the satellites into space will be awarded at a later date. ®

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