Gilat Carves Out Lucrative VSAT Contract from Australian NBN Initiative

[Satellite News 08-14-12] Gilat Satellite Networks has surpassed a significant milestone for its broadband VSAT business by successfully deploying its first 10,000 VSAT units for Australian operator Optus as part of NBN Co.’s Interim Satellite Service project, Gilat announced Aug. 14.

   The joint effort between Optus and Gilat was first establish in May 2011 to include the delivery of up to 48,000 Gilat SkyEdge 2 VSATs that will be deployed during the next three years. Gilat is responsible for the VSAT CPE installation and maintenance and end-to-end management and maintenance of the Australian network operating center and 11 hubs across three related Earth stations.
   The project represents a potential value of up to $120 million for Gilat, subject to final design and implementation of the network.
   “We are very pleased to have achieved this milestone ahead of time and see this as an important accomplishment for both Gilat and Optus,” Gilat Satellite Networks CEO Erez Antebi said in a statement. “The rapid deployment is a testament to the teams’ cooperation and dedication in supporting NBN Co’.s commitment to delivering high-speed broadband to Australians living in rural and remote locations.”
   The Australian wholesale-only national broadband network operator NBN Co. will leverage Gilat’s SkyEdge 2 capabilities in multi-beam environments, utilizing Ka- and Ku-band multi-spotbeam capacity from IPStar and Ku-band capacity from Optus over Australia. NBN aims to use the capacity to provide broadband services to eligible Australian households, small businesses, indigenous communities, not-for-profit organizations, schools, health clinics and local council facilities. These facilities include public libraries around Australia where geographic location impedes the ability to provide either fiber or advanced wireless connectivity.
   NBN is scheduled to begin commercial service in 2015.
   “Satellite-based connectivity is a critical element in NBN Co.’s commitment to offering broadband services across Australia, and Gilat’s expertise in delivering large scale projects has been key to helping Optus meet this important milestone of connecting more than 10,000 sites,” Optus Satellite Vice President Paul Sheridan said in a statement.
   Gilat is one of several satellite companies outside of Australia that is trying to establish lucrative business from NBN Co.’s ambitious national broadband plan, after many of them were disappointed by lack of satellite opportunities in the United States’ 2009 broadband stimulus plan.
   U.S.-based satellite company ViaSat was selected by NBN in July to provide the ground-based communications, network management and data processing systems for the long-term satellite service component of the project.
   The initial value of that contract was established at more than $240 million, which ViaSat expects to increase as the network is built out to reach up to 200,000 homes and businesses.
   The contract award follows a two-year procurement process by NBN. ViaSat is currently under contract to supply consumer satellite terminals, including broadband modems and antennas for Australian homes and businesses, and 13.5-metre diameter Ka-band satellite antennas for 10 ground station gateway facilities across Australia.
   “The rollout of Australia’s NBN is the most comprehensive broadband plan in the world and we are excited to deliver part of the satellite ground portion,” ViaSat Chairman and CEO Mark Dankberg said in a statement. “We have long-shared the NBN vision of fiber-grade satellite network access. The work we do in Australia over the next three years will be pivotal in establishing the state-of-the-art in affordable, satellite broadband.” 

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