NBN Co has signed a contract with ViaSat to enable rural and remote communities with fast and affordable broadband.
This move follows its announcement of an initial $280 million investment to provide ground equipment for the National Broadband Network’s Long Term Satellite Service worth $2 billion.
The contract is a two-year procurement process that will see ViaSat manufacture and supply communications equipment designed to enable the delivery of fast Internet broadband to families and businesses over the NBN in isolated areas.
NBN Co CEO, Mike Quigley, said ViaSat’s role in providing ground equipment to support the Long Term Satellite Service will help bridge the digital divide between urban and regional communities.
“It will be designed to ensure those who live in the most geographically isolated parts of the country are able to take advantage of the opportunities that the digital economy enables,” he said.
Large satellite dishes located at NBN Co’s 10 ground stations will be used to send broadband signals to NBN Co’s two new satellites for distribution to homes, farms and businesses.
When the two satellites are launched in 2015, it is expected that up to 200,000 remote homes and businesses will have access to double the broadband speeds they can generally access today.
Other equipment include household satellite dishes and other receiving and transmitting equipment, as well as technology to be installed in NBN Co’s datacentres in managing the integration of the satellite service with the rest of the NBN network.
NBN Co said in a statement 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.
“Satellite broadband is essential to completing the NBN and bringing this important infrastructure to all Australians – no matter where they live,” ViaSat chairman and CEO, Mark Dankberg, said. The contract announced is the second of three major tenders to be awarded as part of the Long Term Satellite Service.
In February, NBN Co awarded a $620 million contract to Space Systems/Loral to build two 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.