Australia’s National Broadband Network has signed an important A$300 million deal with France’s Arianespace to launch the NBN satellites into orbit. NBN Co is spending A$620 million on two Ka-band satellites with both expected to be operational by 2015. With US giant Space Systems/Loral currently building the satellites, NBN Co has now secured the services of Arianespace to take them up into space.
The agreement was signed in Sydney, Australia by Mike Quigley, CEO at NBN, and Jean-Yves Le Gall, CEO of Arianespace. The satellites will provide broadband Internet access for all of Australia, as well as the Norfolk, Christmas, Macquarie and Cocos (Keeling) islands. Their design life is 15 years.
Under the terms of the deal, Arianespace will build two Ariane 5 rockets and launch them into geostationary orbit above Australia from its spaceport in French Guiana. NBN Co chief executive officer Mike Quigley said the NBN satellite service delivers the key promise of bridging the broadband divide between “the city and the bush.”
“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,” Quigley added.
NBN’s two satellites will be the eighth and ninth Australian satellites launched by Arianespace. Aussat A3 was launched in 1987, followed by Optus & Defence C1 in 2003 and Optus D1, D2 and D3 in 2006, 2007 and 2009. Optus 10 is slated for launch in the second half of 2013, and Arianespace has another Australian satellite in its order book, Jabiru-1 for the operator Newsat. Furthermore, SingTel, the parent company of Optus, had chosen Arianespace to launch its ST-1 and ST-2 satellites, in 1998 and 2011, respectively.