Satellite revolution underway

Written on the 3 December 2010

Gold Coast telco Pivotel will invest $20 million into ground support infrastructure as satellite provider Globalstar begins the first roll out of its technology.

The US-based Globalstar has launched the first six of 24 second generation low earth orbit satellites which it says will revolutionise satellite data technology. It follows four-years and $1 billion in development.

As Australia’s sole Globalstar service provider, Pivotel is aiming for Australia to be positioned to take advantage of the new phone and internet coverage.

“This technological development is an amazing leap forward in satellite communication for all Australians as we will see an exciting array of new devices and 3G like mobile data services become available right across the country,” says CEO Peter Bolger.

“Pivotel is planning to have new handsets and coverage services made available at the end of 2012 when the launch of the full Globalstar constellation will be complete. With each new group of six satellites, communication coverage improves but it won’t be until all 32 satellites (eight Globalstar satellites were already in orbit) are operational that Australia will receive the full benefits.”

According to Globalstar CEO Peter Dalton, faster data speed is not the only benefit.

“Once fully deployed we expect our satellite constellation will reliably provide the world’s finest quality mobile satellite voice and fastest mobile satellite handset data services in the industry,” he says.

“With a 15-year design life, the new satellite constellation will secure our space segment beyond 2025.”

Speeds of up to 256kbps are now expected from the cutting edge technology which also delivers improved voice quality. The extended coverage, low data latency and minimal voice delay will particularly benefit Australians operating in rural areas.

Pivotel has become a leader in rural satellite communications having picked up State Government contracts throughout Australia including a $3 million, three-year deal for more than 30 Northern Territory government departments.

The company has invested more than $70 million in ground infrastructure across the country to provide satellite services and Bolger says cash-flow from Pivotel’s other business operations plus bank funding will provide the additional $20 million investment capital.

Critical of the Federal Government’s lack of support towards the private sector’s telecommunications initiatives, he says it’s also out of touch regarding the NBN.

“We have difficulty getting the government to recognise our further $20 million investment because it doesn’t seem ‘big’ enough,” he says.

“The National Broadband Network is proposing to deliver 100mb per second in data which is only useful for downloading movies within five minutes. It’s the wrong focus.

“If this initiative is really about business productivity; low earth orbit satellite technology can deliver more than 200kb per second which is more than enough for normal business operations and could cover a huge percentage of Australia’s land mass.

“At the moment, reliable mobile voice and data communications is available to about 20 per cent of the country; we’re looking to solve the problem for those travelling around or living in the other 80 per cent.”

A further three satellite launches are scheduled for 2011 and Australians should be able to experience the full potential of the second generation of satellite communication by 2013 when all services become available to the market.


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