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First NBN satellite to be launched in September

Commercial service from one of NBN Co's pair of Ka-band satellites is expected to begin next year, following a launch date set for September.
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Written by Chris Duckett on

Rural Australians could be just months away from faster internet, after the government confirmed that the first of NBN Co's new communications satellites will be launched in September.

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull told a Coalition joint party room meeting on Tuesday that the service is expected to be commercially available in the first half of 2016.

Turnbull also said the rollout of the NBN had ramped up in June, with 436,000 fibre-to-the-node connections.

The launch will be go ahead despite the company having yet to finalise negotiations to co-ordinate frequencies with other nearby satellites.

Matt Dawson, NBN program director for satellite, said the company had over 165 agreements in place with other international operators.

"This is recognised by experts as being well beyond industry norms," he said. "There remain only a few network filings in the nearby arcs to conclude, these represent no or low technical risk."

"NBN will shortly be notifying the ITU of its intention to bring its satellites into use in the filed orbital locations."

Last month, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) said NBN would be able to launch and operate the satellites without needing to have completed frequency negotiations. The satellites will be responsible for providing broadband services to the 3 percent of the Australian premises that are beyond the fixed-line and fixed-wireless footprints.

As shadow minister for communications, Malcolm Turnbull was heavily critical of NBN Co for building its satellites without having the slots coordinated.

"If the orbital slot is an important assumption in the design of the satellite, and if the slot assumed in the design is not the one ultimately granted, there would presumably be additional costs to take into account the new slot and potential delays, depending on how long the grant of the new slot actually took," he said in 2012.

Under changes proposed last month, NBN would charge satellite customers a AU$15 reconnection fee should a satellite service be disconnected in order to move house or suspend a service. Users connected to the NBN via fixed wireless, fibre-to-the-node/building/premises, and hybrid fibre-coaxial would not be charged the fee.

With AAP

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