NBN awards $300m interim satellite tender

NBN awards $300m interim satellite tender

Summary: The National Broadband Network Company (NBN Co) has confirmed that Optus and IPstar have been selected to provide interim satellite internet to rural and remote areas of Australia, in deals worth a total of $300 million.


The National Broadband Network Company (NBN Co) has confirmed that Optus and IPstar have been selected to provide interim satellite internet to rural and remote areas of Australia, in deals worth a total of $300 million.

satellite dishes

(satellite dishes image by Paul Keller, CC2.0)

NBN Co has paid $200 million to Optus to provide managed satellite services and satellite capacity, while IPstar has picked up $100 million to provide some additional satellite capacity for the internet service, set to have 6 megabits-per-second downlink and 1 megabit-per-second uplink speeds.

The service will be made available from July this year for retail service providers to sell services to residential and small business customers across Australia, with priority to be given to customers without access to broadband services first. NBN Co will be aiming to roll out services to around 300 customers per month from July to October, and to around 1000 customers per month after November.

The Interim Satellite Service is designed to replace the Australian Broadband Guarantee program and ease the transition for the three per cent of regional and rural customers who are outside the fibre and wireless footprints of the NBN, and will receive broadband services by satellite.

The $237.7 million Australian Broadband Guarantee (ABG) scheme that subsidises the cost for delivering broadband services in remote areas of Australia is set to come to an end by 30 June 2011. Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said the scheme was a stop-gap measure.

"The ABG has provided an effective safety net for Australians unable to get an adequate broadband service," Conroy said. "However, the ABG was not designed to deliver the step change in performance required to bring forward enhanced services to rural, remote and regional Australia. The NBN Co Interim Satellite Service is the first step in bringing about this change ahead of the long-term satellite launch in 2015."

Liberal Senator Simon Birmingham told The Adelaide Advertiser earlier this week that by scrapping the scheme, the government was dooming those customers without decent broadband connections to higher prices, and many would not be able to afford the costs of installation for the new service. However, NBN Co has said that it will bear the costs for installation and maintenance of the equipment required on-premise for the service, and will retain ownership of this equipment.

Existing ABG customers will also not be affected by the roll-out of the new Interim Satellite Solution, Conroy said.

NBN Co will begin the trial of the Interim Satellite Service with two retail service providers who already provide services under the ABG scheme; however, NBN Co had not yet named the two companies when asked by ZDNet Australia.

NBN Co expects customers to be transitioned to a 12Mbps satellite service once the company launches its own satellites in 2015. NBN Co said that it is in the process of finalising contracts for the wireless service, which is expected to be available by mid-2012.

Topics: NBN, Broadband, Emerging Tech, Legal, Telcos, Optus


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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  • Put simply, you cannot attempt to pay people less than running and living costs specially when the fibre industry is so expensive to start in the first place.
    After all, who will work for nothing?
    • Also, subcontracting for companies like Skybridge who have the contract to install IPSTAR is a less than attractive offer - specially when Skybridge charge $700 for an out of warranty service call & pay only $125 to the service technician who must supply all the equipment to test, repair and install.... no thanks!
  • Reality check for the NBN Co Supremo who thrills with that kind of parameter. It seems Skybridge apply the Pareto principle - the 80/20 rule.
    Vasso Massonic
  • Ah... more good news for comms consumers of course equates to more desperation from the FUDsters/TLS muppets...!
    • RS was a pest, Rizz is a dead loss.
      Vasso Massonic
  • Wow, not one word of denial... I guess in the end, even the greedily selfish can't deny the facts...!

    Ooh, I facilitated only because you asked for an encore (wouldn't want an unhappy fan)
  • what a disaster optus & ipstar...

    living & working in a remote part of the Gulf of Carpentaria I'm forced to subscribe to IPstar's satellite service, its atrocious during the dry and non-existent during the wet. it's doubtful a $100million contract will see them launch another satellite to improve their already oversubscribed asia-pacific service. The optus service which we use for mobile satellite access is no better.
    At the end of the day satellite internet does not work well in the tropics. The yellow signs, denoting cable in the ground, that we see on star pickets every few km in remote Australia, or the microwave towers dotted across the horizon are put there by telstra (or their contractors) and most of us would be happy to see one near our front gate.
    $300million would go a long way to upgrading the towers to high speed microwave.
  • Optus & IPstar,
  • Well as far as I know this is an interim measure to help those in the bush...ASAP...! You do want the people in the bush to gain improvements, don't you, pete?

    I believe (don't quote me) NBNCo will have their own satellites in 2015, unless the government is voted out and the opposition can (pun intended) the NBN... then you (and me) can complain how rusty those cans and how soggy the string, supplied by Abbott or his ideological "private enterprise" are!

    If Telstra allow us such luxuries as rusty cans... once the threat of the NBN (which has made them all jump) is gone...!
  • Ah it does say in the article... after all, 2015!
    • dont care what it says in the article open is open,don't want see a presidence that may come back to haunt later
  • Yes you want it all or nothing... and the way you are going you'll get nothing...!