NBN satellite constraint shows need for fibre: Clare

NBN satellite constraint shows need for fibre: Clare

Summary: The underestimation of the capacity requirements on the interim satellite service shows the need for NBN Co to keep rolling out fibre everywhere else, according to Shadow Communications Minister Jason Clare.


Shadow Communications Minister Jason Clare has said that the failure to provision enough capacity on the interim satellite service to meet the needs of its 44,000 customers highlights the importance of planning for future constraints, and the need for fibre to the premieses.

Yesterday Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced that the government would spend AU$34 million fixing up capacity problems for the 44,000 premises on the interim satellite services provided through NBN Co by IPStar and Optus, and subsidising an additional 9,000 premises to access commercial satellite services ahead of the launch of NBN Co's own satellites in the second half of 2015.

The former Labor government set up the interim satellite service in 2011 for AU$351 million to replace the former Howard government Australian Broadband Guarantee subsidisation program, but demand for the service far outweighed the capacity NBN Co purchased as a stop-gap measure before the launch of its own Ka-band satellites.

NBN Co was forced to stop accepting new customers onto the satellite service late last year, and larger data plans from retail service providers such as iiNet were removed because capacity on the service was so limited that some customers reported download speeds slower than dial-up on the service.

Speaking on Sky News yesterday, Clare said Turnbull had been "whinging" about the problem for the last seven months without fixing it, but welcomed the announcement to add extra capacity.

As NBN Co moves ahead with plans to trial fibre to the node technology for 20 nodes connecting up to 400 premises,  Clare said that the former Labor government's underestimation of the need for the satellite service in regional Australia shows how much the rest of the country will need fibre to the premises.

"I think they underestimated demand and the same will be true of the NBN right across the country, that's why you build it with fibre not with copper," he said. "You've got to build a network that's going to meet the needs of Australians, not for five years but for the next century and that I think is the crucial mistake I think this government is making."

Clare said that Labor would need to see how much of the NBN had changed in the next two years, but said that the party continues to see fibre as being "the end game".

"We'll need to see how much this government has wrecked between now and the next election but if we're going to compete with the rest of the world then Australians are going to need infrastructure to set them up, not for five years but for the next century," he said.

Clare said the Western Australian senate election this weekend is a "rare opportunity" for voters to send a message to the government that its NBN promises were "a lie".

Turnbull yesterday said that NBN Co's wireless and satellite operations had "some very serious problems", and a review of the operations would be released next week. Industry has speculated that NBN Co will sell off the two long-term satellites to the private sector to lease back to NBN Co.

Topics: NBN, Government, Government AU, Australia


Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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  • Suburban Accountant Thinking

    "Industry has speculated that NBN Co will sell off the two long-term satellites to the private sector to lease back to NBN Co."

    Plus touted in News Ltd the suggestion that Telstra the most expensive constructor in Australia should build and maintain the NBN infrastructure for NBNCo as the operator providing the wholesale service for the RSP's.

    All of this is about shifting the upfront CAPEX to the private sector with their much higher borrowing costs and need for much higher ROI and profit, translating to a ridiculously high contracted OPEX for NBNCo for eternity. Unlike CAPEX, the OPEX cannot be paid off.

    It will translate to much higher charges and less investment in future upgrades and expansion. It will have to be a cheap and nasty National Essential infrastructure
    Abel Adamski
  • Still pushing fttp

    Jason Clare is still pushing the Labor NBN which voters rejected. He is partly right: fibre is needed on high demand trunk routes, but many domestic premises and some commercial ones will be fine with fttn.
    • Still pushing sh-t uphill in a barb wire kanoe is more like it

      "The majority of voters understand what's needed"

      As if. Voters only know what they don't want to pay for, at least labour had a vision that included everyone's needs for the foreseeable future.

      "domestic premises and some commercial ones will be fine with fttn."

      Are you serious! The copper they intend to piggyback there fttn onto is so unreliable I need to have telstra provision a new line to my business ever other year, furthermore I spend more time with copper issues then taking care of my business so how will this suffice into the future? Put simply - copper cost me money & time I should be spending on the job not to mention client confidence lost with downtime directly attributed to the ailing copper infrastructure.

      John I may share you name but not your dilution.
    • Is that you Ziggy ?

      Still trying to justify your noone will need more than a 56Kb modem and business will never need more than ISDN. So RIMS were the way to go
      When your own staff were excited about developing xDSL technology and FTTP back early 90's and they were the areas your research Labs were identifying as the future.
      Your own staff were organising ISDN links to their own homes and using them to connect to their work networks.

      So now version 2 , still stuck on a antiquated view of perceived current needs. ?
      Abel Adamski
    • Voters did no such thing

      They rejected Labor, not the NBN. Big difference. There were so many issues on the table and Labor practically shot themselves down by the Rudd resurgence attempt amongst various other Labor problems. NBN did not lose the election, Labor did, I think in fact NBN is probably what got them the seats it did.
  • Still thinking backward.

    I've been saying the same thing over and over: The target speeds of the NBN remain too slow and by the time it's rolled out it will be, just like anything else in I.T., obsolete.

    My own household is Gigabit-ready right now but, given that I live in the LAST region in Australia to convert to Digital TV, I imagine that the house will be Terabit-ready by the time the NBN rolls past the door. Looking at the push toward cloud-based subscription software and the office PC being evermore reduced to a high-powered but glorified uber-thin client, one can pretty well guarantee that all the available bandwidth will be used up by the time I get to see anything remotely NBN related.
    • Correct my friend, it's backward to the future in a copper Kanoe

      Too true,

      The real issue here is the voters that went against the NBN have no idea what they have done to the future of there children's best interests.

      They keep talking about future jobs while killing of the one thing that may make the difference

      We have a real need to work from home as a result of clogged roads and other infrastructure issues, many businesses already have work from home initiatives that suffer from connectivity issues directly attributed to the copper network that comes after the node

      As you have rightly pointed out- cloud services are increasing in popularity

      Remote replication services within NAS devices are truly useless with the fraudband pimped by turny and his cronies.

      I could go on and on however, if you want proof you only need to go to whirlpool and read how many people are having difficulty with copper.

      Thanks for posting Treknology