It’s almost a year since government owned NBN decided to roll out the national broadband development scheme. The multi-billion dollar initiative aims to expand wired and wireless broadband coverage through massive deployment and construction of fiber optic lines and construction of two Ka-band communications satellites. In line with the wireless broadband targets of the project, NBN awarded a $620 million satellites communications contract to Space Systems/Loral. The joint venture will construct two Ka band satellites capable of delivering high-speed satellite communications Internet connection across the country, even in marginalized areas.
It took almost a year until Adrian Ballintine, the CEO and founder of locally owned satellite communications firm NewSat, lashed out at NBN’s snubbing. NewSat is deemed the largest employer in Australia’s satellite communications market, offering satellite services to US military and multinational firms. Ballintine said NewSat is in a great position to help NBN provide satellite broadband services through its upcoming Jabiru satellites. The satellite will run on Ka-band spectrum and provide high speed connectivity across Australia and nearby countries. The CEO said he was upset that NBN never approached NewSat to discuss possible partnership. NewSat teleports in Perth and Adelaide have been cited by the US military and the World Teleport Association as among the best in the world.
Hosted payload is a cost-efficient alternative to building satellites. It allows both the satellite carrier and payload customer to efficiently allocate their resources. Ballintine believed that this model will work for NBN.
NBN is also criticized by Australia’s opposition party over similar concerns. NBN has millions of dollars under its disposal, and the opposition expects a good return on investment. Opposition Leader Tony Abbot is quite disappointed with the recent figures on NBN nationwide user population which was far below the projected amount.
However, NBN CEO Mike Quigley justified the construction of satellites, arguing that no satellite carriers that serve Australia have extra capacity to meet the demand of NBN. Optimus indeed admitted that its Ku band fleet will not be sufficient for NBN.