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Australia/NZ to get two new space satellites
18 Dec 2003

Optus today announced it would launch two new satellites for Australia/New Zealand over the next few years, further expanding its fleet following the successful launch of the C1 satellite earlier this year.

Optus made the announcement as it signed a multi- million dollar deal with Orbital Sciences Corporation of the United States to build two new D-series satellites.

The contract underpins Optus' satellite business and secures its leadership position in the television broadcasting markets of Australia and New Zealand.

Mr Paul O'Sullivan, Chief Operating Officer of Optus, said the deal was very significant for the satellite industry and would confirm Optus' premier position and Australia's future in the satellite market.

"These launches will ensure the continuity and growth of our satellite business in the Australian and New Zealand markets," he said.

Mr O'Sullivan said the decision to build the D-series satellites follows higher than anticipated demand for access to the recently launched C1 satellite. They will also replace the two Optus Bseries satellites, which are approaching the end of their useful life.

"A significant percentage of capacity on the D-series satellites has been pre-sold, with Optus having signed a 15- year deal with Sky TV to provide subscription TV services to its NZ customers.

"The B-series have been key to Optus' and Australia's success in satellite communications. The purchase of the D-series satellites, together with the securing of key broadcast customers, such as Sky TV NZ and Foxtel, provides the platform for Optus' satellite business to extend beyond the year 2020," Mr O'Sullivan said.

Mr David W. Thompson, Orbital's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, said the company is extremely pleased to be in partnership with Optus.

"We are delighted to be chosen by Optus to build the new D-series satellites. We are looking forward to working in close partnership with Optus to deliver the spacecraft in time for a smooth transition from the B-series services to the new D-series," Mr Thompson said.

John Fellet, Chief Executive Officer of Sky TV NZ, said by partnering with Optus it guarantees the future of subscription TV services in New Zealand.

"Optus has been a supplier of satellite services to Sky TV for more than six years and the new agreement ensures our relationship will continue for at least another 15 years.

"By having access to both Optus D-series satellites, one as the primary and one as back- up, Sky TV has secured in-orbit redundancy for its business, greatly reducing risk in the future," Mr Fellet said.

In addition to subscription TV broadcasting, the new satellites will be used to provide two-way voice and data communication services to areas in and around Australia and NZ, particularly those areas without access to terrestrial telecommunications infrastructure.

Note to Editor:

Optus B1 satellite and Optus B3 satellite have been in operation since 1992 and 1994 respectively. Optus successfully launched the Optus C1 satellite in June 2003.

Media contact:
Luisa Ford
Optus Corporate Affairs
Tel: +61 2 9342 5045