Singtel Optus Australia

Singtel Optus Pty Limited is still the 2nd largest telecommunications company in Australia, and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Singapore based Singtel. The company primarily trades under the Optus (Optus is Latin for "to choose" or "to decide") brand, while maintaining several wholly owned subsidiary brands, such as Virgin Mobile Australia in the mobile telephony market, Uecomm in the network services market and Alphawest in the ICT services sector.

The company was originally known as AUSSAT Pty Ltd. prior to privatization, when it became Optus Communications Pty Ltd. It was later renamed to Cable & Wireless Optus Pty Ltd. before changing again to its present name.

Optus is operating the D-series of communication satellite fleet (Optus-D1, D2 & D3) and consists of the B3 and C1. The company runs national teleports in Darwin, Perth, Adelaide, Canberra & Sydney.


Optus can trace its beginnings back to the formation of the Government-owned AUSSAT Pty Ltd. in 1981. The company was one of Australia's national satellite companies and was one of the first national communications satellite systems in the world. It became a publicly owned company known as AUSSAT and delivered satellite television, telephone and other services. It is credited with being responsible for greatly improved outback communications.

AUSSAT had its origins with Kerry Packer in 1977, then the owner of the Channel 9 television stations in Sydney and Melbourne. Packer wanted to share programming in real time with his stations and created broadband links into Sydney from other parts of Australia.

Packer was frustrated by Telecom Australia's high prices and lack of flexibility. Packer’s intentions were people in remote and rural Australia would be able to receive TV, radio and reliable telephone service for the first time.

However, AUSSAT came to a sticky end due to a number of wrong decisions and as a result predicted revenues were not achieved and the company generated large losses.

Even though the system was used extensively for TV networking and broadcasting, by the end of its life as a government-owned company AUSSAT had generated losses of 136 million USD.

In 1982, AUSSAT selected the Hughes 376 established satellite design for their initial satellites, with the first two satellites; the AUSSAT-A1 and AUSSAT-A2, were launched in August 1985 by NASA on a Space Shuttle.  The third, AUSSAT-A3, was launched in September 1987 by Arianespace on the Ariane-3 rocket.

AUSSAT satellites were used for both military and civilian satellite communications, and delivering television services to remote outback communities.

With AUSSAT operating at a loss and with moves to deregulate telecommunications in Australia, the government decided to sell AUSSAT in December 1991, coupled with a telecommunications license. This license was sold to Optus Communications, a consortium including:

- logistics company Mayne Nickless, UK (25%),
- telecommunications company Cable & Wireless US (25%),
- telecommunications company BellSouth US (24.5%),
- AIDC Ltd.(10%),
- insurance & investment company AMP (10%),
- insurance & investment company National Mutual (5%).


The new telecommunications company was designed to provide competition to then government owned telecommunications company Telecom Australia, now known as Telstra.

After privatization, AUSSAT became Optus and its first offering to the general public was to offer long distance calls at cheaper rates than that of its competitor Telstra. Through its Optus 'Yes' brand, the company provides broadband, and wireless Internet services. Other wholesale services include Satellite and 4G Mobile.

The AUSSAT-A1, -A2 and –A3 satellites were renamed into Optus-1, -2 and -3.

In 1997 UK-based Cable & Wireless acquired the 24.5% stake of Optus Communications from Bell South for about 750 million USD. The deal gives C&W 49% of the company, which is both Australia's second telephony company and owner of the emerging pay-TV network Optus Vision, head- to-head rival with Foxtel that is jointly owned by Rupert Murdoch's NewsCorp. and Australia's major telecommunications company, Telstra. Optus Communications, Ltd. was renamed Cable & Wireless Optus.

On October 23rd, 2001 Singapore-based Singtel and its wholly owned subsidiary, SingTel Australia Investment, Ltd (SingTel Australia), completed the acquisition of all of the outstanding ordinary shares in Cable & Wireless Optus, Ltd.

With the acquisition SingTel Australia now holds 100% of the ordinary shares in Optus. Singtel renamed Cable & Wireless Optus in SingTel Optus.


Australia’s ‘Federation Satellite One’ (FedSat-1) was an Australian scientific research satellite. The launch of the a 58kg microsatellite provided a landmark moment in Australia’s satellite and space communication research program and was the first Australian-built satellite in more than 30 years. FedSat was launched from Tanegashima Space Centre in southern Japan on 14 December 2002. It was the first foreign satellite to be launched by Japan's NASDA Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) H-IIA rocket, and was one of four satellites successfully released into an 800km high orbit by the vehicle's fourth flight (NASDA is now merged with JAXA).

FedSat was developed by the Cooperative Research Centre for Satellite Systems, a cooperative made up of several universities, commercial organizations and government entities. The ground station is at the Institute for Telecommunications Research, part of the University of South Australia, near Adelaide. Since 2005 it was operated by the Australian Department of Defense.

In February 2014 the National Broadcast Network (NBN, Co.) of Australia chose SingTel Optus for a five-year contract to operate two purpose-built satellites to deliver high speed broadband across rural and remote Australia.

Optus launched 10 satellites as from 1985 and has currently a fleet of five satellites in orbit with Space Systems/Loral (SS/L) built Optus 10 satellite being most recent launch in September 2014 by Arianespace.

All trademarks, logos and images mentioned and showed on this page are property of their respective owners.

References:  edition July 2nd, 1997  edition January 25th 2011


OPTUS-B3 (Aussat-B3)

Orbital Position: 164° E inclined
Manufacturer: Hughes Satellite Systems (Boeing CSS)
Launch date: 28 Aug 1994
Launch Operator: China Great Wall Industry Corporation (CGWIC)
Launch vehicle: Long March LM-2E
Expected lifetime: 10-14 years

Note: Retired, The Optus B3 was replaced by the D2 satellite launched in 2007.

OPTUS-C1 (Defence-C1)

Orbital Position: 156° E
Manufacturer: Space Systems/Loral (SS/L)
Launch date: 12 June 2003
Launch Operator: Arianespace S.A.
Launch vehicle: Ariane 5G
Expected lifetime: 15 years

Note: Satellite operated by Optus & Ministry of Defense of Australia.

Youtube: Watch the Optus C1 satellite launch!


Orbital Position: 160° E
Manufacturer: Orbital Sciences Corporation (Orbital ATK, Inc.)
Launch date: 13 Oct 2006
Launch Operator: Arianespace S.A.
Launch vehicle: Ariane 5ECA
Expected lifetime: 15 years

Note: The Optus-D1 replaced the B1 satellite.


Orbital Position: 152° E
Manufacturer: Orbital Sciences Corporation (Orbital ATK, Inc.)
Launch date: 05 Oct 2007
Launch Operator: Arianespace S.A.
Launch vehicle: Ariane 5ES
Expected lifetime: 15+ years

Note: The Optus-D2 replaced the B3 satellite. 


Orbital Position: 156° E
Manufacturer: Orbital Sciences Corporation (Orbital ATK, Inc.)
Launch date: 31 July 2009
Launch Operator: Arianespace S.A.
Launch vehicle: Ariane 5ECA
Expected lifetime: 15 years

Youtube: Watch the Optus-D3 satellite launch!


Orbital Position: 164° E
Manufacturer: Space Systems/Loral (SS/L)
Launch date: 11 Sept 2014
Launch Operator: Arianespace S.A.
Launch vehicle: Ariane 5ECA
Expected lifetime: 15+ years

Youtube: Watch the Optus-10 satellite built by SSL and the launch with the Ariane 5ECA!