NBN Co on hunt for satellites

NBN Co on hunt for satellites

Summary: The NBN Co today kicked off its hunt for satellite operators which will in the future service a part or all of the 10 per cent of the rural Australian households not delivered a fibre connection to the home.

TOPICS: Telcos, Broadband, Optus, NBN

The NBN Co today kicked off its hunt for satellite operators which will in the future service a part or all of the 10 per cent of the rural Australian households not delivered a fibre connection to the home.

Following recent comments by NBN Co chief Mike Quigley that the company would launch "a couple" of KA-band satellites by the end of 2010, it has called for capability statements from operators. KA band is a short frequency between 26.5GHz to 40GHz that is seen as suitable for broadband.

While urban households will receive 100Mbps fibre connections, rural Australians have been promised some form of wireless connection with speeds of no less than 12Mbps.

Quigley said in a statement today that the NBN Co "is looking for companies with proven capabilities to act as key suppliers" which can undertake different components of such an operation.

"This is an important milestone in the progress of the project, particularly for the provision of high-speed broadband services to rural and regional Australia," he said.

At the Federal Government's Our Broadband Future conference in December, Quigley said that by 2010 the NBN Co hoped to have launched "a couple" of KA-band satellites, highlighting it as the most economical way of doing the task.

Following an evaluation of capability statements, which are due by 15 February, it will invite a shortlist of between five to 10 suppliers to partake in a request for proposal process.

Optus has already indicated that it was keen to participate if satellites were selected as the technology for rural Australia. It along with Intelsat/PanAmSat are the dominant players locally and both provide broadcasting services to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. However, neither have in operation a KA-band satellite, the likes of which are made by US manufacturer, ViaSat.

Australian company KaComm, which has yet to launch a satellite, however, claims that it has acquired the rights to KA-spectrum from the Australian Communications and Media Authority and plans to become a wholesale regional broadband provider, according to its company profile.

The satellite request for capability from satellite operators will follow a similar process to that already commenced for fibre suppliers, which the NBN Co expects to announce a shortlist for by the end of March.

Topics: Telcos, Broadband, Optus, NBN

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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  • Satellite = Latency!

    Second-class NBN for the non-metropolitan Australians.

    No satellite can defy the laws of physics to defeat latency. Forget VoIP and online gaming on sat.

    Wireless, not satellite!

    Thanks ConJob.
  • no substitute for fibre

    I install satellite to regional area's and i can tell you that you are 100% correct about latency. The average ping time for satellite is around 500ms, making it totally usless for anything other than (often slow) web surfing or downloading non streaming content.
    Onling 3D gaming and VIOP are totally out of the question.
    Wireless is little better with average ping times of around 220/250ms depending on network load. Still unsuitable for most game servers.
    Put simply, people who live on the land get second rate service.
    We pay the same tax, we deserve the same service.
  • CONroy: "Satellites ay? Yeah, I like the sound of that."

    The penny should drop for the Minister for Leighton Holdings any day now: just as FTTN could not be squeezed into a $4.7B budget, $43B will buy him nought but a shandy version of FTTP!

    I can just see his next move, especially now everyone's got the hang of costs increasing by a factor of 10:

    "It is clear that Australia has outgrown its need for the proposed NBN. In this vein, I am proud to announce that as of this morning, the Government has commissioned a feasibility study from McKinsey & Co. for the construction of a $400B National Electricity/Fibre/Gas/Sewerage Grid (with an optional shipping canal between Adelaide and Darwin). We anticipate that McKinsey's report will be completed by mid-November - or 1 week after the next Federal election, whichever is latest."
  • Install

    I install for ipstar, I thought they were the dominant satellite in australia for this? I read in a press release last year that they already have 75000 connections and I'm still installing them
  • Why does VOIP not work?

    I'm sitting in the South Pacific at the moment using VOIP to call my partner back in Canberra. Other than the pause you get, quality is fine. Guess what? If I were to use the hotel phone I get the same pause because these islands only have sat communications! Sat is fine for VOIP as far as I'm concerned.