Take THAT Turnbull: Global powerhouse United Nations has rowed into the latest NBN fight, defending plans to launch two satellites to deliver broadband to remote regions

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Thy Turnbull doth protest too much? Image: Daily Telegraph.

The row emerged before a government joint committee on NBN in Sydney on Monday, where a bitter war of words broke out between NBN Co chief Mike Quigley and Shadow Communications minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Turnbull accused NBN Co of irregular and risky practices by purchasing two satellites prior to being allocated spaces in orbit by international agencies.

The two satellites are to deliver high speed broadband to remote areas covering 200,000 households, which Turnbull says is wasteful.

Ex- Alcatel Lucent boss Quigley denied the charges, insisting the practices were on par with regulations and had predecent.

But to back up Quigley, the UN communications agency informed the NBN Co that Australia are following the correct approvals process for its satellites, who quickly sought reassurance from big guns that it wasn’t acting like space cadets (without a shuttle).

“Advice received overnight from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) says it is not uncommon for a company such as NBN Co to purchase satellites before having finalised their positions in orbit over Australia,” NBN Co said in a statement today.

Geneva-based UN said: “It is possible for a company to purchase a satellite in advance of it being put into use and the orbital slots being finalised.

“In order to secure those slots the notifying authority, which in Australia is the Australian Communications and Media Authority, needs to (a) initialise the registration procedure with the ITU, and (b) resolve any major compatibility issues with operators of neighbouring satellites.

“So long as there are no regional objections and the ITU registration process is underway an operator can proceed with its launch plans.”


NBN Co has been proactively pursuing the ITU international frequency coordination process since August 2010.

“We expect formalities will be complete before the satellites are in orbit in 2015,” Mike Quigley told NBN committee this week. 

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