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Singtel Optus to launch new satellite in 2023 for Australia, New Zealand

SINGAPORE Telecommunications' (Singtel) wholly-owned Australian subsidiary Optus on Thursday confirmed a contract with Airbus Defence and Space for a new OneSat software-defined satellite.

The Optus 11 will be deployed for Australia and New Zealand in 2023 at the current Optus D1 orbital location, sitting 36,000 kilometres above Earth. 

Pay-television broadcaster Sky New Zealand will be the cornerstone customer for the new satellite, under a revised agreement with Optus.

Optus said it will be the first satellite operator in the Asia-Pacific to launch a software-defined satellite that can provide both flexible concurrent broadcast and broadband services via a very high throughput satellite (VHTS) design.

Optus 11 is fully configurable in space, which means its location, coverage, bandwidth and capacity can be changed in orbit as customer demands evolve. In contrast, traditional satellites are limited by on-ground configurations that cannot be altered after launch.

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Kelly Rosmarin, chief executive officer of Optus, said this will enable the company to provide unique, flexible services and customer experiences tailored to customers' needs.

Ben White, the Australian firm's managing director of wholesale, satellite and strategy, noted that telecommunications markets "don't stand still", and the ability to reconfigure payloads in orbit will be a "game changer".

Optus 11 will give broadband customers the option to tailor their dynamic video delivery via IP streaming and allow them to benefit from better performance and individual throughputs, Mr White added.

The new satellite will also be able to host a satellite-based augmentation system payload, which can improve the accuracy and precision of existing GPS and positioning systems across Australia and New Zealand. It will be able to pinpoint a location to within a decimetre, without the need for mobile or Internet coverage.

Optus 11 will join five other Optus satellites in orbit. The company said it will be the first operator in the world to use the Ku band (11-14GHz) spectrum for the software-defined VHTS in both broadcast and broadband services.

Shares of Singtel rose S$0.01 or 0.4 per cent to S$2.48 as at 1.01pm on Thursday.

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