Quigley plays down satellite concerns

 

Coalition highlights risky business.

NBN Co CEO Mike Quigley has dismissed Coalition concerns that international regulatory hurdles will delay the launch of two satellites planned for the National Broadband Network.

Quigley sparred with shadow communications minister Malcolm Turnbull at a parliamentary committee hearing yesterday, as the Coalition attempted to raise concerns over potential delays to the launch of the two Ka-band satellites, currently slated for 2015.

The satellites will ultimately provide broadband services to 200,000 premises or three percent of the Australian population as part of the NBN.

Turnbull criticised Quigley for suggesting the satellites could launch even if NBN Co failed to obtain the necessary slots from the International Telecommunications Union, determining where exactly they would sit in orbit.

"Do you agree that placing an order for the manufacturing of satellites ahead of securing the orbital slots imposes a level of financial uncertainty on this project?" Turnbull said.

But Quigley played down the potential risks of the regulatory hurdle to the satellites, suggesting the possibility of failure of the satellites themselves at launch posed a greater risk.

The two satellites, to be built by Space Systems/Loral under a $620 million contract, are currently slated to be launched five months apart.

Quigley said NBN Co was open to a final decision on how long to wait between launching the satellites, depending on redundancy and capacity requirements for the long term service.

NBN Co satellite manager Oliver Stacey told a satellite forum earlier on Monday that a hardware failure in either satellite could push a second satellite launch back by several years.

NBN Co is expected to complete tenders for the ground earth stations and launch services for the first satellite this year, while the required spectrum required for the satellite component of the NBN have also been recently sealed.

The orbital slots allowing NBN Co to launch the satellites in a specific portion of space above Earth remains one of the largest obstacles to their launch.

Turnbull pointed to past attempts to launch satellites without the necessary regulatory approval, such as the ProtoStar initiative, as an example of the risks associated with such a venture.

However, it is unlikely the long-term satellite component could be torn down by a future Coalition government due to the forward payments and $2 billion in contractual commitments NBN Co is expected to have signed by the 2013 election.

Quigley conceded there had been predecence of satellites launching or nearing launch date without successfully attaining the required regulatory approval from the ITU.

The biggest obstacles to regulatory approval - objection to NBN Co's bid - have yet to be heard by the international union.

Department of Broadband secretary Peter Harris said internal Government estimations had provided "a high degree of assurance" the slots would be awarded by the ITU before launch.

"This is not a risk that keeps me up at night," Quigley said.

Copyright © iTnews.com.au . All rights reserved.


Quigley plays down satellite concerns
 
 
 
Top Stories
Meet FABACUS, Westpac's first computer
GE225 operators celebrate gold anniversary.
 
NSW Govt gets ready to throw out the floppy disks
[Opinion] Dominic Perrottet says its time for government to catch up.
 
iiNet facing new copyright battle with Hollywood
Fighting to protect customer details.
 
 
Sign up to receive iTnews email bulletins
   FOLLOW US...
Latest Comments
Polls
In which area is your IT shop hiring the most staff?




   |   View results
IT security and risk
  26%
 
Sourcing and strategy
  12%
 
IT infrastructure (servers, storage, networking)
  22%
 
End user computing (desktops, mobiles, apps)
  15%
 
Software development
  26%
TOTAL VOTES: 333

Vote
Would your InfoSec team be prepared to share threat data with the Australian Government?

   |   View results
Yes
  57%
 
No
  43%
TOTAL VOTES: 138

Vote