The National Broadband Network (NBN) does not require two new satellites to service rural customers when there is already enough broadband capacity available, according to Shadow Communications Minister, Malcolm Turnbull.
NBN Co has awarded Space Systems/Loral a $620 million contract to build two Ka-band satellites.
The broadband company will supply satellite services to three per cent of premises that fall outside of the NBN’s fibre and fixed-wireless footprint.
But Turnbull claimed there is no need to waste such a large sum of money on new satellites.
“Existing satellites available for lease and satellites that are scheduled to be launched already provide broadband services to the several hundred thousand customers in rural and remote Australia that these satellites of the NBN are going to service,” he said.
Turnbull also suggested the NBN interim satellite service could be upgraded to a permanent solution as a cheaper alternative to new satellites.
“Why buy and build vastly more capacity than you need when there is surplus capacity elsewhere?” he said.
The Shadow Communications Minister once again flogged the Coalition’s canned OPEL plan, claiming NBN-type satellite services would have been available to rural and remote Australia years ago.
The Opposition has long attacked the Federal Government’s perceived ‘reckless’ spending on the $36 billion NBN. While the Government has argued such spending is needed to accommodate for future applications that will become available on a high-speed broadband network, the Coalition has yet to be convinced.
“You can not ever future-proof,” Turnbull said, referring to claims the new Ka-band satellites are required for capacity needed in the future. “… Yes, there will be increases in demand of different types [and] how it will be satisfied.
“The technology that will do it will be more up to date closer to the event, so don’t build on the basis that they will come - build reasonably ahead of demand, but not so far that you run the risk of putting billions of dollars into infrastructure that may not even be of use.”