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Further satellite infrastructure investment for regional Australia.



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Further satellite infrastructure investment for regional Australia

A major new investment in satellite broadband infrastructure shows both that Australia is attractive to global investors and that there are commercial opportunities available in regional and remote areas, the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts Senator Richard Alston, said today.

The $69 million investment by iPSTAR, with more multimillion dollar investments to be made in two separate earth stations at Broken Hill and Kalgoorlie, is great news for regional Australia and will further enhance broadband availability.

iPSTAR's decision to invest in the Australian telecommunications market is also an endorsement of Australia's competitive regime and proves that Australia continues to be an attractive destination for international communications investment.

iPSTAR will begin offering services over currently available satellite infrastructure before the launch of the iPSTAR-1 satellite in mid-2004. This new satellite is the third next-generation satellite providing services to Australians after the recent launch of the Optus C1 satellite and the launch of the New Skies Satellite's NSS-6 - a satellite array which will provide an unprecedented level of competition.

These major investments by iPSTAR, a subsidiary of Thai satellite operator Shin Satellite, demonstrate that regional and remote Australia presents an attractive commercial opportunity for infrastructure investment. iPSTAR will be working with Ericsson in its Australian rollout, with the two companies actively trialling the service over the last month.

The Australian Government remains committed to making the latest advances in broadband available to all Australians through the $142.8 million National Broadband Strategy - funding which should attract significant investment in regional and remote communications infrastructure and services.

Satellite communications already provides extensive coverage across the Australian landmass and these new satellites provide greater capability for advanced two-way broadband services. According to iPSTAR, its new offering will cut the cost of delivering satellite broadband across Australia and may provide an appealing model for the delivery of broadband to regional and remote areas.

Australia's status as a successful test bed for innovative communications solutions is shown by the recent strong growth in subscribers on Hutchison Telecom's

multibillion dollar '3' 3G mobile network; Bright Telecommunications "fibre to the home" trial in Perth, and the commitment by Personal Broadband Australia to roll out Arraycomm's innovative i-BURST wireless broadband technology in Sydney. This is testament both to the tech savvy Australian population and the Australian Government's commitment to innovation and a flexible regulatory environment.

Media contact: Simon Troeth 02 6277 7480 or 0439 425 373 Website: www.richardalston.dcita.gov.au

135/03 6 August 2003