Photo (L-R): Ben Shields, Dubbo Mayor Councillor; Peter Bolger, CEO, Pivotel; John Turnbull, Director for Australia and Pacific, SES; and Hon. Mark Coulton MP, Federal Minister for Regional Health, Regional Communications and Local Government, Australia.

Pivotel and SES announced that they have signed an agreement to build a new satellite ground station at the Pivotel teleport in Dubbo, New South Wales. The ground station will support O3b mPOWER, SES’s next-generation non-geostationary (NGSO) constellation and enable the delivery of enhanced telecommunication services to regional communities.

The project, which has come about as part of the ongoing partnership between remote communication provider Pivotel and SES, will provide “high-performance and low-latency” connectivity services across Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, according to the press release.

The terabit-level constellation will deliver multiple gigabits-per-second beams of data services to customers, providing fibre-like connectivity with more bandwidth and improved flexibility to remote and underserved regions across Australia and the Pacific islands.

The Dubbo gateway will commence operations in the second half of 2021 and will track SES’s O3b mPOWER constellation operating at Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) 8,000km away from Earth. This ground station will also support telemetry, tracking and commanding systems needed to control the satellites during the early stages of launch and complete integration with the Satellite Operations Centre.

Pivotel has been hosting an O3b gateway since 2013, when SES’s current MEO constellation was launched. Through the O3b gateway, SES has delivered connectivity services to communities and the regional government entities of countries such as
Papua New Guinea, Nauru and Federated States of Micronesia.

This technology has enabled some of these countries to roll out low latency 4G/4G+ networks via satellite — a first for the satellite industry. Remote mine locations have also benefited from this technology, accelerating their digitisation plans and staff welfare through high-speed internet.

“Pivotel and SES have enjoyed a long-standing relationship that stems back to the initial days of O3b services. With such an important and powerful project, SES is thrilled to be continuing this partnership with Pivotel. Working to integrate leading technology from both businesses, we have captured the key elements of high-performance connectivity that can truly benefit everyone in the region regardless of how remote they may be,” said John Turnbull, Director for Australia and the Pacific region of SES.

“We’re proud to partner with SES to deliver a new satellite ground station in Dubbo that offers an incredible number of new opportunities for regional and remote communications across the country and Pacific region. The extremely high cost of deploying fibre links to remote communities means satellite is often the only choice, but it has come at the cost of lower download speeds and
higher latency. SES’s O3b mPOWER’s fibre-like performance largely overcomes those trade-offs, offering the potential of city-like connectivity to remote and isolated communities everywhere,” said Peter Bolger, CEO of Pivotel.

“Once launched in 2021, the unique next-generation MEO constellation will be capable of delivering desperately needed back haul connectivity, and with the right support, has the power to deliver city-like data services to thousands of users across regional Australia including schools, community and health centres, as well as providing a vital point of connectivity for emergency and
disaster first responders.”

The new satellite ground station was officially announced on 16 December 2020 at an event attended by Federal Minister for Regional Health, Regional Communications and Local Government, the Hon Mark Coulton MP, and the Dubbo Mayor Councillor Ben Shields.

“The announcement of this new satellite ground station is fantastic news not only for the local community and economy, but for regional Australia. The role that satellite technology can play in providing improved health, education and community welfare services cannot be over-estimated,” Minister Coulton said.

“I am delighted Pivotel and SES have chosen Dubbo to host a new satellite ground station. Dubbo understands the importance of good telecommunications options for regional and remote communities so when technology like this comes along, we will definitely support it,” Councillor Shields said.

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