Turnbull decries 'Rolls-Royce' satellites

Turnbull decries 'Rolls-Royce' satellites

Summary: The opposition has said that the Federal Government opted for an unnecessary "Rolls-Royce" communications system by paying $620 million for two new satellites to provide high-speed broadband to remote parts of Australia.


The opposition has said that the Federal Government opted for an unnecessary "Rolls-Royce" communications system by paying $620 million for two new satellites to provide high-speed broadband to remote parts of Australia.

NBN Co, the government-owned enterprise rolling out the National Broadband Network (NBN), has signed a deal with US firm Loral Space and Communications to make the satellites.

About 200,000 homes and businesses in the nation's most remote regions will have access to internet speeds similar to those available in urban centres when the satellites are launched in 2015.

"Don't buy yourself a Camry, a Falcon — buy yourself a Rolls-Royce, a Bentley," Opposition Communications spokesperson Malcolm Turnbull told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.

"Nothing but the best will do, nothing but the most expensive will do."

Turnbull said the industry had told him there was enough capacity on existing and scheduled-to-be-launched satellites to provide broadband services to rural and remote Australia.

As well, the existing interim satellite service could be upgraded to a permanent one.

"Why does the government have to pay over $1 billion in total in building, launching, flying these satellites of their own?" Turnbull said.

NBN Co declined to comment on opposition policy, but told ZDNet Australia that it has already secured much of the currently available commercial capacity with its Interim Satellite Solution, which will serve up to 48,000 premises. The newly contracted satellites will have to serve 200,000 premises.

The opposition has committed a future coalition government to a cost-benefit analysis on the best possible way to provide fast, affordable broadband to all Australians.

Under the $35.9 billion NBN project, fibre-optic cable delivering high-speed broadband services will be rolled out to 93 per cent of Australia's 13 million homes, schools and businesses by 2021.

Fixed-wireless technology will provide high-speed internet to 4 per cent of premises, and the remaining 3 per cent will be supplied by the two satellites to remote areas.

Turnbull said the opposition was opposed to the NBN plan in its present form.

Instead, it would pursue a mix of technologies, including fibre, hybrid-fibre coaxial cables, wireless and satellites, to achieve its version of a broadband network.

But he acknowledged contracts such as the satellite deal announced on Wednesday could be hard to cancel if the coalition wins the next election, likely in late 2013.

"They are putting contracts in place and we may have to live with it," Turnbull said.

"There is nothing I can do about that."

Josh Taylor contributed to this article.

Topics: Broadband, Government, Government AU, NBN

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  • FFS, these daily waffles emanating from the opposition remind me of the saying about circumcision and no end...!
    • These prehistoric twits are never happy. One minute FTTH is an "extravagance" and a "waste" (with the Vic liberals asking for more of that extravagant waste) and we need to use a mix of technologies (just for the sake of using different technologies of course) THEN when you use those other technologies for the remaining 7% it’s "bububu cancer rays! lay more fibre!" and "OMG them satellites are expensive!" I guess this dummy forgot that his redundant patchwork plan also includes satellites and how do you improve speeds for those 7% without launching more satellites? Well if you are Abbott you’d probably say "uh, I dunno, peak speed?" and if you are Turnbull you’ll say "Oh you know, the private sector can handle the rest, yay!"
      Hubert Cumberdale
  • NBN co can launch "rolls Royce " satellites cause they are spending other people's money. However Mr Turnbull is doing himself no favors by simply being critical of everything NBN co does.
    Knowledge Expert
    • And who are these other people?
      • I do not know, probably the Chinese government as they seem to be bankrolling Oz at present. I don't think NBN co has shared with the public the source of these capital funds.
        Knowledge Expert
        • Really...

          • Well there you go, now we know who's money is being used to fund those satellites.
            Knowledge Expert
          • And some, as you said, may indeed be Chinese...!
          • I had no doubt that I was correct.
            Knowledge Expert
          • Well after all there are (arguably) 196 countries of which China is 1, so you are just over 0.5% correct, which is a vast improvement on your normal 0 ;-)
          • They are one of the few countries with any money to spend. Perhaps a calculation of dollar amounts would be more relevant.
            Knowledge Expert
          • Oh, I was just being facetious :-)

            But fancy that though, those big bad commies being one of the only countries with money to spend?
          • Yes well we all do keep buying stuff from them.
            Knowledge Expert
      • Other people = tax payers.

        What Turnbull is really saying is "the current government wants to give you one of the best networks in the world and give you excellent broadband internet but we will spend a bunch of money giving you the most half arsed solution we can come up with just to keep the status quo because change is bad so vote for us next election!"
        • Stick with ringing the bells Jingles.
          Knowledge Expert
          • All you "hands down" voters, this post was very funny!
            Knowledge Expert
          • Perhaps small thing amuse small minds ;-)
          • May be so, but we do need to lighten up some of these people who are so serious. poor old fibretech nearly brings tears to the eyes and jingles didn't like my bell joke. All a bit sad really.
            Knowledge Expert
  • @doubt If you had something credible to say maybe you wouldnt get such silly replys to your posts. What is your experience in the communcations industry?
    • Oh Oh, I did not realise this was a communications industry forum.
      Knowledge Expert