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The future of Satellite and Australasia’s evolution

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Earlier this year I had the privilege to be a keynote speaker at the largest satellite forum in the Australasian region - The Australian Satellite Forum. Our Head of Satellite Networks, Nick Leake, was also invited to join a panel discussion about Next Generation Broadband and Mobile Satellite Networks for enterprise and consumer customers.

An important topic of discussion within the industry is how technology continues to develop at a fast pace and the challenges this places on the satellite industry.

While these challenges drive innovation and technological development, they also bring opportunity as we continue to see more big-name brands looking to the satellite sector as a solution to their needs.

To deliver on these challenges, there are several key areas that Optus Satellite see as the future.

The evolution of connectivity
As part of the industry’s evolution, High Throughput Satellites are now the default standard and they come in many formats – GEO, MEO and soon LEO in a blended ecosystem of connectivity.

Recently Optus Satellite received Telesat’s ground terminal for our testing of Telesat LEO Phase 1 for broadband and cellular backhaul. As Optus begins to roll out 5G across Australia, we’re determining how satellites can effectively contribute to the success and performance of 5G networks.

GEO satellites still provide geographical advantages as developing LEO networks begin to complement existing networks over the next 3 to 5 years and beyond. At Optus, we see the benefit of a blended or hybrid approach in the future.

Shaping the future of telecommunications
Traditional expectations of satellite networks are changing. Previously the lifespan of a satellite had a physical limitation but today it is being addressed through life extension vehicles – a direct injection to GEO and new methods of satellite propulsion which provide a greater lifespan.

An example of this is our very own Optus 10 satellite. Launched in 2014, it now has an estimated end of life in 2040 – 26 years after launch!

Customers, demographics and end user cases.
Customers are changing, demographics are adapting and end user cases are evolving. We know that two things need to be done in response – drive a harder and faster return on investment and work with manufacturers to place a spacecraft on orbit for less.

Over the past year Optus has rolled out more satellite delivered small cells to complement our network and mobile black spot programs in rural and regional areas and we plan to develop our satellite networks even further.

As Optus begins to roll out 5G across Australia we are determining how satellites can more effectively contribute to the success and performance of 5G networks.

There is no doubt that 5G is an important part of our ecosystem, and indeed our future, so what we do with a satellite now needs to support and grow with our 5G network.

Just like LEO constellations, 5G networks will take time to complete. As we rollout and expand, it is envisaged that our satellites will provide that much needed content distribution enabling Optus to reach more Australians with 5G faster.

Future advancements at Optus
Currently Optus Satellite is looking at software defined payloads and how to establish a redeployment of bandwidth and power wherever and whenever it is required. We know that as markets change or if there is a natural disaster, the capability of these payloads will address these needs.

On the extreme side of commercialised communications technology there is also beam forming on the fly. Previously a domain of the military, adaptable beams can track individual aircrafts or vessels as they travel across a geographical region, providing better flexibility in power, frequency and capacity.

Optus Satellite currently have several broadcast beams. In the future we will look to adapt these beams to a blend of hybrid broadcast and broadband or change them to complete broadband as customer needs require it.

Innovation at the forefront
We keep innovation at the forefront of what we do so we can shape the future. We are always open and looking for collaboration partners in this game changing industry.

If you would like to find out more about Optus Satellite visit our website here.

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