NBN Co, the company overseeing the management and construction of Australia’s National Broadband Network (NBN), is said to be close to inking a deal with SingTel Optus with a view to improving the performance of the current satellite element of its service. With the deal expected to be worth around AUD35 million (USD31 million), it is understood that it could be formally announced in the coming weeks. However, the Australian cites sources close to both NBN Co and Optus as noting that, while the agreement will see services improved for the 48,000 rural and regional customers using the Interim Satellite Service (ISS), it will not allow for the addition of new customers to the service. As previously reported by CommsUpdate, in January 2014 NBN Co reportedly stopped taking orders for the ISS after reaching the 48,000 subscriber cap.
With the ISS using capacity already available on satellites owned by Optus, and using equipment under contract from IPStar, it will eventually be replaced by two new purpose-built satellites. Last month Optus was said to have secured a five year contract under which it will operate these Ka-band satellites, which are scheduled to launch in 2015, and under the terms set out by the deal it will provide tracking, telemetry and control services in connection with NBN’s Long Term Satellite Service (LSS).