NBN Co, the public-private company overseeing the construction and management of Australia’s National Broadband Network (NBN), has revealed that it has selected US-based ViaSat to provide ground equipment for the NBN’s Long Term Satellite Service (LTSS). In a deal worth an estimated AUD280 million (USD286 million), ViaSat has been contracted to manufacture and supply equipment including: the large 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 in-deployment fibre network.
The contract, NBN Co noted, was subject to a comprehensive two-year procurement process, and forms part of its total investment in the LTSS which is expected to reach around AUD2 billion; the service itself will go live when NBN Co’s two satellites are launched in 2015, bringing faster broadband connectivity to around 200,000 homes and business in rural and remote regions. The LTSS is being designed to deliver double the wholesale speed of the Interim Satellite Service, while boosting the capacity per end user by up to ten times. It is expected that retail service providers will gain access to wholesale broadband services with initial peak download speeds of 12Mbps (1Mbps upload).
The agreement between ViaSat and NBN Co meanwhile is the second major tender to be awarded by the latter for the LTSS; in February 2012 NBN Co awarded a AUD620 million contract to Space Systems/Loral to construct two Ka-band broadband satellites plus associated telemetry, tracking and command systems. Looking ahead, a contract for the launch of the satellites into space is expected to be awarded at a later date.