One of the primary things the D-series satellites will do is replace the existing B-series satellites, with the first of those, B1, due to reach its end of life at the end of 2006," says Dr Mark Harwood, Planning and Strategy Manager for Optus' Satellite business.
The major differences, says Harwood
, between the D and B series satellites lie, firstly, in technical performance, but principally in the D series' ability to provide in orbit back up for mission critical services and applications, like pay TV.
"If you think of our Sky New Zealand customer, for instance, who deliver the bulk of their pay TV services via satellite ... if something were to happen to the B1 satellite, this would lead to a significant service interruption.They were very keen, then, to see some method of providing backup for their services in orbit.
"It's actually a worldwide phenomenon, says Harwood
: "people are looking more and more to lower risk strategies for delivering their business objectives.
C1 was designed to be able to carry multi-carrier traffic, in the event that more markets opened up for data and voice applications, says Harwood
, as well as having a steerable beam to provide additional coverage over the southern parts of South East Asia and North Asia.
The D series, on the other hand, will cover Australia and New Zealand, being very much designed for these local domestic markets.
"When D2 is co-located with C1, we'll see growth in that direct-to-home market so it may be that we do get more VSAT traffic ultimately back onto C1, but it will, as far as we can see, most likely always be a direct-to-home broadcast spacecraft".
"With the D2 launch, it'll be the first time in Australia that the broadcast satellite band (spectrum) will have been opened up.This is a fairly significant step in terms of the usage of spectrum, notes Harwood
"The current B series platform will continue the all band service through until at least 2014.What happens then is part of some activity we're now planning, with respect to where we'll take that particular product", Harwood
D Series Technology Advancements
"Part of what we do is constantly monitor developments in spacecraft technology so we know what can be done, what's achievable, and then match that against where we think our business is heading, or what the most likely growth path will be, and then come up with a performance specification for a spacecraft which pushes the boundaries of the technology, but not to a point of taking excessive risk", Harwood
"There are a lot of developments happening now in spacecraft, with onboard processing technology - we've just seen the successful launch of the IPSTAR satellite, which has an exceptionally complex payload on it; it's the largest commercial spacecraft ever launched; it just completed in orbit testing; it's an extremely expensive spacecraft.It's a very high-risk strategy for the Thais, but will we do that?I don't know, Harwood
fully owns Optus
and a decision to proceed with any major infrastructure investment (i.e. the D-series), like buying new spacecraft, requires the approval of the SingTel
board.Appropriate business cases must go through senior Optus executive clearance, in Sydney, before being presented to the board.
"I guess our approach typically (with respect to constructing sophisticated spacecraft) has been to try to put as much intelligence on the ground, and keep the satellite fairly simple- in the sense that they're really just bent pipes- but making use of developments in antenna technology: travelling wave tube amplifier technology being a good example ... ", Harwood
went through the usual competitive tender process to select the launch vehicle operators for D1 and D2, "and Arianespace were the best-value-for-money offer," says Harwood
"We see remote areas as being a major market for satellite technology", says Harwood