NBN Co and European satellite launch company, Arianespace, have inked a $300 million deal to propel Australia’s NBN satellites into space.
Minister for Broadband, Communications, and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, said the contract was awarded to Arianespace after an extensive procurement process and follows the recent announcement about NBN Co planning to boost wholesale Internet speeds available to rural and remote Australia.
According to NBN Co, the partnership will enable Australians in rural and remote areas to get a step closer to receiving high-speed broadband, as the satellites will aid in connecting up to 200,000 homes farms and businesses in these areas with fast Internet access.
NBN Co CEO, Mike Quigley, said the NBN satellite service is key to bridging the divide between the city and the bush as it provides people in the outback, remote regions and Australia’s overseas territories with access to economic and social opportunities.
“For instance, faster speeds will allow people in regional communities to work from home like they would from the office, access video-based health services and make high-quality video calls to family and friends,” he said.
The announcement of the deal was characterised by Conroy as the “final step” for ensuring the NBN’s long-term satellite service is available from mid-2015.
“This will give Australians in rural and remote areas access to broadband that is superior to what people living in the cities can get through their ageing copper network today,” Conroy said.
While the NBN is being rolled out through fibre to the home and fixed wireless, Conroy said this move will mean that high speed broadband will be delivered to all Australians via satellite as well.
“There are already more than 25,000 homes and business across rural and remote Australia that use the NBN’s interim satellite service, demonstrating the demand for high speed broadband services in the bush,” he said.
Quigley added that the NBN is helping foster competition in communications in the bush.
“Every broadband provider on the NBN has equal access to the network and NBN Co’s wholesale prices to broadband providers are no different in the city or the bush,” he claimed.
NBN Co will be offering a range of NBN Satellite and Fixed Wireless service tiers.
A higher speed tier is planned to offer wholesale download speeds to broadband providers over satellite and fixed-wireless of up to 25 Mbps and upload speeds of up to 5 Mbps – five times higher than the upload speeds and four times higher than the download speeds available on the current NBN Interim Satellite Service.
The faster speed tier is planned to be available over the Fixed Wireless network as early as June this year and over the Long Term Satellite service when it launches in 2015.