International bandwidth to explode this year

The supply of international bandwidth to New Zealand is about to explode with two new satellites coming on-stream in the next year.

The supply of international bandwidth to New Zealand is about to explode with two new satellites coming on-stream in the next year.

Swedish telecommunications manufacturer Ericsson's partnership with Thai-based Shin Satellite will see one of the earth stations for the new IPStar satellite based in Auckland. IPStar will provide up to 45GBit/s connectivity between New Zealand and South East Asia.

Meanwhile French telecomms manufacturer Alcatel is also launching a new satellite, Worldsat 3, which will operate over the Pacific.

Worldsat 3 covers an area stretching from the Bearing Strait in the north down to New Zealand and from South East Asia across to the west coast of the US and is expected to be launched by the end of 2005. Already Boeing has signed on as a customer to allow it to equip its aircraft with broadband internet access for passengers.

Currently the bulk of New Zealand's international bandwidth is provided by the Southern Cross Cable, which is a joint venture between Telecom, with 50% shareholding, Australian telco Optus, with 40% and MCI with 10%. The cable provides 240GBit/s between New Zealand, Fiji, Australia and the west coast of the US and can be boosted to 480GBit/s relatively easily. The cable cost US$1.3 billion while each of the two satellites is expected to cost around US$400 million each.

Ericsson and Shin have bid for the government's last Project Probe broadband region, the extremely remote satellite-service region. The government has yet to announce a winner for that tender.

Shin expects the local end of the operation to be operational by the end of Q1 this year with gateway to be built in New Zealand expected to be operational by the middle of this year.

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