Multiemedia bags $40m Iraq satellite contract

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Australian broadband provider Multiemedia - in conjunction with its UK-based reseller Transcom - has won a $40 million deal with the US military to rollout two-way satellite services in Iraq.

Australian broadband provider Multiemedia - in conjunction with its UK-based reseller Transcom - has won a $40 million deal with the US military to rollout two-way satellite services in Iraq.

Charles D'Alberto, national sales manager at Multiemedia, said the deal was brokered at the GITEX 2003 telecommunications trade show last month in Dubai. The company defeated European telecommunications provider Eutelsat to the deal, he said.

Multiemedia leases a satellite from European satellite provider New Skies. The satellite is located over Indonesia. US soldiers in Iraq would be equipped with a 1.2 metre satellite dish for transmitting and receiving data and a server which acts as a gateway. The server has an Ethernet port which soldiers could use to plug in a PC or laptop, he said.

The US military would be charged each month based on the amount of bandwidth that is used by the soldiers. 'The need for services in that region is immense,' said D'Alberto.

Transcom would be running a network operations centre from the UK which would monitor the satellite service and set up the clients, D'Alberto said.

Initially, the service would be rolled out at 20 locations at a cost of $5 million, but would eventually scale to 200 locations, D'Alberto said.

Multiemedia chief executive, Adrian Ballintine, said the service lets the US military communicate from anywhere in the Middle East.

'There is only one service provider in the region providing any form of satellite service and that is quite old. The US military will now be able to set-up sites across Iraq and simply, by pointing this dish in the right direction, will have Internet and communication service equivalent to anywhere in the world,' he said.

The service would eventually be used by the Iraqi community as power, water and communications services in the country come back online.

'The US military will be able to offer broadband services to the local community, to schools and to those helping establish law and order under their local governance provisions as well as enabling its soldiers to email back home and surf the net,' he said.

D'Alberto said the deal is the company's largest satellite contract to date. Other Multiemedia customers in the Middle East include The Central Bank of Iran, The Iranian Embassy and CallSat Telcom.

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