NBN tackles software upgrade issue as Sky Muster II enters orbit

Sky Muster II blasts off amid connectivity concerns

The company building Australia’s National Broadband Network (NBN), has confirmed it is taking steps to ensure customers in regional areas don’t see a repeat of an outage in late September that affected areas serviced by its Sky Muster satellite service.

“We had a planned software upgrade last week, which didn’t go quite to plan. But we’re taking to steps to ensure it doesn’t occur again,” nbn chief network engineer, Peter Ryan, told ARN.

Meanwhile, Minister for Communications and the Arts, Mitch Fifield, suggested that, despite the outage, and reports of ongoing connectivity and data allowance concerns among those using the Sky Muster service, customers had returned largely positive reviews of the satellite network.

“The experience with Sky Muster I for people in regional Australia has been overwhelmingly a good one,” Fifield told ARN.

“There was an issue about a week back in relation to a software upgrade, which didn’t go entirely according to plan. Those issues have fundamentally been resolved.”

Minister for Communications and the Arts, Mitch Fifield
Minister for Communications and the Arts, Mitch Fifield

The comments come as nbn celebrates the delayed launch of its second satellite, Sky Muster II, from an Arianespace launchpad in French Guiana on 6 October.

The satellite was meant to launch on 5 October, but was delayed due to weather concerns.

Fifield said that Sky Muster, which was launched at the beginning of October last year, and Sky Muster II will collectively cover around 400,000 homes and businesses in Australia’s regional areas, with around 250,000 premises expected to be connected to the satellite network.

“Already, through the Sky Muster satellite, there are 30,000 premises that are connected. Overall there’ll be around 200-to-250,000 premises connected that will be connected to the NBN through the satellite,” Fifield said.

The two satellites are slated to offer download speeds of up to 25 Mbps and upload speeds of up to 5 Mbps, with a total capacity of 135 Gbps, according to Fifield.

Ryan reiterated nbn’s plans, revealed earlier in the year, to use its second satellite for additional capacity to the network rather than just for redundancy purposes, as was initially proposed under the previous Labor government's plan.

The Sky Muster II launch follows a decision by nbn to move away from its reliance on Optus’ Hybrid-Fibre Coaxial (HFC) infrastructure, which it purchased from the telco for $800 million, in favour of Fibre-to-the-Distribution Point (HTTdp) technology.