Australia's NBN Co was correct in planning to buy satellites before being assigned orbital slots for them by the ITU, the body has confirmed.
The UN agency has released advice stating it is not uncommon to acquire satellites before receiving the slots, in response to a request from NBN Co. The ITU confirmed that an operator can proceed with satellite launch plans as long as there are no regional objections about compatibility issues, and the ITU registration process is in-progress.
NBN Co has been pursuing the ITU international frequency coordination process since August 2010, and in February awarded Space Systems/Loral an A$640 million (€505 million) contract to build and deliver two Ka-band satellites.
The firm sought the ITU's advice after opposition communications spokesperson Malcolm Turnbull questioned NBN Co chief Mike Quigley during a parliamentary hearing. Quigley acknowledged there was a “very, very small risk” that the required approvals will not be granted before the scheduled 2015 launch, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
NBN Co, the company set up to operate Australia's National Broadband Network, plans to use a combination of wireless and satellite technologies to cover the 7% of Australians not due to be passed by FTTH. Satellite will itself cover around 3% of Australian premises.