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Australasia Satellite Forum 2019 

Optus touts the advantages of geosats 

New low-earth orbiting and medium-earth orbiting satellite networks still have a long way to go before they can compete effectively with geostationary orbiting satellite networks in the arena of consumer and enterprise communications.

That’s the view of Nick Leake, Optus head of satellite networks, speaking on a panel at the Australasia Satellite Forum yesterday.

Leake was reacting to the proposition that the latency advantages of leosats and meosats would see them wipe the floor with geosats, especially as large, pervasive networks from the likes of OneWeb and Space X enter the market.

“The leos and the meos really need to get an antenna solution together to the consumer,” Leake said. “I don’t know where that is at the moment because geo has the most cost effective and easy-to-maintain antenna. It’s parabolic, it doesn’t need any servicing, it’s very low cost.”

Leake says there is an issue with the costs of the phased array flat panels required by leosats and meosats.

“If they can’t get that antenna to a better cost then they haven’t got a business. It doesn’t matter how many satellites you’ve got up there but you won’t be able to compete with the hardware and the capability that we (as a geosat operator) provide. Those of us on geo have fixed antennas, they are low cost and they work. Leo and meo are high cost and they are unreliable at the moment. They need technology development before these guys can achieve more in terms of the cost of the terminal,” Leake said.

Kacific SVP Pacific John Hawker concurred, saying it was difficult to see what the disruptors in this market are,” given that we don’t even know what the price of a flat panel will be yet.” – Grahame Lynch, Commsday,