Australia's national broadcaster the ABC has signed an eight-year, $100 million extension to its long-running satellite transmission deal with Optus.
The ABC has worked with Optus since 1991, when Optus acquired Australia's Government-owned satellite provider AUSSAT. AUSSAT had been serving the ABC's satellite needs since 1985.
The extension will see Optus provide the national distribution of the ABC's digital television transmission, carriage of interchange signals between ABC studios in capital cities and regional centres, and support of the broadcast of analogue television and radio services direct-to-home in rural and remote Australia until 2017.
"We are excited and proud to be announcing that we'll be continuing to provide the means by which the ABC is taken to all corners of Australia," said Paul Sheridan, director of Optus Satellite.
Optus is all set to launch its ninth satellite, the D3, from French Guiana in the coming months. The Singtel-owned telco is in a waiting list behind one other satellite provider to use the services of launch partner Arianne Space, which has a separate launch due in early July.
"Once that launch is done, our launch date gets locked down," Sheridan told iTnews.
The D3 will be launched from French Guinea because the island is close to the equator (shorter distance for launch) and offers a launch path over ocean should anything go wrong.
Sheridan said Arianne Space has successfully launched 29 satellites in a row up to now.
The D3 offers Optus a "replacement and growth" option and thirty per cent more capacity across its satellite fleet.
"Leveraging off the latest technology, you will see more power on the ground, more elegant solutions for users in terms of smaller dishes, and tighter management of where the signal can go from the latest antennae technology," Sheridan said.
Sheridan said he expects satellite technology to "continue to make sense" for providing communications in Australia.
"Going up once out of Sydney, we can cover all of Australia and outlying islands," he said. "From a broadcast perspective, this is how the ABC fulfils its charter to provide services to the entire population of Australia."
He hopes satellite will play a role in the forthcoming national broadband network.
"I believe satellite has a natural role as it has since 1985, serving the last x per cent of the population, wherever that may be," he said. "Am I confident we'll be part of the NBN? Yes, but we need to watch how the Government's plans develop.
"Obviously we are keen to work with the Government to see where that goes."
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