NBN announces business satellite service for 2019

The NBN Business Satellite Service will make use of existing Sky Muster spectrum and infrastructure, with trials to take place at the end of this year ahead of service launch in the first half of 2019.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

The National Broadband Network (NBN) company will launch a wholesale business-grade satellite service next year, with the service to make use of underutilised spectrum from its existing satellites.

After signing a AU$184 million 10-year deal with Speedcast in February to work on the delivery of a Sky Muster business service, NBN has said it would have two wholesale category products.

The first, bandwidth services, is "designed for businesses with more complex networking requirements including wide-area network connections to multiple locations", according to NBN executive GM for Access Products Gavin Williams.

Williams said the second product offering, broadband internet, is "designed for businesses requiring more broadband data, higher speeds, and business-grade service levels".

"Underutilised spectrum from the Sky Muster satellite service will be allocated to the NBN Business Satellite Service -- we anticipate using less than 15 percent of our overall capacity on the access technology. We will use this spectrum and parts of the Sky Muster satellite infrastructure such as our nine ground stations to support the service," Williams added.

Making use of spare capacity means the business service will be unlikely to be available on the eastern seaboard, however, where there is high take-up of the existing satellite service.

NBN is expecting to trial the service later this year ahead of a launch in the first half of 2019, after "extensive consultation" of its potential pricing and products over the next few months.

As of March 31, NBN had 87,478 end users on satellite, with 67 percent on the 25/5Mbps speed tier, and 33 percent on 12/1Mbps.

During the nine months to March, NBN's satellite service brought in AU$21 million in revenue, after the company spent AU$54 million in capex on the service during the period.

In November, outgoing NBN CEO Bill Morrow had told ZDNet that the company has been looking into the utilisation of satellites with 1Tbps capacity as consumer demand for bandwidth increases.

"When we think about those people in the very remote parts of the country, we still do not see other technologies than satellite as the most optimal solution, so we stay on top of the current developments of technology that are satellite related," Morrow told ZDNet at the end of last year.

"For example, we know that there are terabit-per-second-capability satellites that are being built and planned to be deployed in a similar geostationary orbit path as what we have for our satellites, so we try to examine at what point would we think that consumer demand would be necessary to justify deploying those other satellites.

"There's been no decision to go forward, but we watch it closely."

This followed Morrow telling ZDNet in August that NBN is looking into deploying a third satellite, piggybacking off existing satellites, building out additional fixed-wireless towers in order to relieve congestion, and improving the tech on its existing two satellites.

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