[wa today] NBN Co is close to signing up a satellite provider to supply broadband to remote households, delivering on a promise that helped Labor secure the support of the independents to form government.
The chief executive of NBN Co, Mike Quigley, said he would present the Gillard government with a business plan within two weeks.
Securing a satellite deal became a priority after the Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, said the government would ask NBN Co to redesign the roll-out timetable to be more regionally focused a few days after Labor formed government.
The most likely candidate for a deal is Austar, which has more than 150 megahertz of spare capacity that could deliver broadband at 12 megabits a second, as required.
''There are satellites up there at the moment that have spare capacity,'' Mr Quigley said yesterday.
''We have to have a discussion with the satellite provider who has got it and then we have to look at qualifying new modems and new earth stations and put those in place. We are trying to do that as fast as we can.''
The government-owned company was also close to awarding $2 billion worth of cable and hardware contracts and tenders for optical transmission equipment and was also negotiating a contract for a data centre.
Tenders for a construction contract worth hundreds of millions of dollars would soon close, and a tender to construct wireless infrastructure had just opened.
NBN Co was set up by the federal government last year to build a national wholesale broadband network. Fibre would be laid to 93 per cent of households. Remaining homes would be served by wireless and satellite services.
Legislation to change competition and trade laws to accommodate the project is yet to pass Parliament, and a deal with the industry giant, Telstra, has not yet been finalised.
NBN Co set to use semi-idle satellites to deliver remote broadband