WELLINGTON — The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) is joining an international partnership that will give it guaranteed satellite communications for the next 20 years, Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman announced Jan. 18.
The NZDF is joining the Wideband Global Satellite (WGS) program, a network of nine military satellites built by Boeing and operated by the U.S. Defense Department.
Coleman said WGS will increase the NZDF’s access to satellite broadband “more than 20-fold, with guaranteed access and at a fixed price, ensuring better value for money.”
New Zealand will join Canada, Denmark, Luxembourg and the Netherlands in a joint agreement for access to the network in return for partially funding the ninth satellite. Australia has been involved in a similar agreement since 2007.
Currently, the NZDF purchases bandwidth on commercial satellites at spot prices, which can involve a premium of up to 100 percent depending on demand, and which can also limit availability of bandwidth.
The NZDF will spend 83.2 million New Zealand dollars ($67 million) on WGS over 20 years. The country’s current annual spending on satellite communications for the military is about 4.3 million New Zealand dollars, growing at some 10 percent per year.