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NBN launches satellite backup for business customers

Customers will need a new dish installed to take advantage of satellite backup service.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor
Image: NBN

The company responsible for deploying the National Broadband Network (NBN) across Australia has launched a satellite backup service for business services.

Much like how residential customers are offered an NBN modem with 4G backup, this service functions in much the same way, except it involves the installation of a satellite dish and associated infrastructure in order to enable the switch over to satellite to occur.

NBN said the new service is designed to help regional and rural customers that experience outages on their primary connection -- whether it is a fixed line or fixed wireless connection -- due to "extreme climate conditions".

"We observed floods and fires faced by rural and regional Australians, making it crucial for us to offer a product designed to provide access to business-grade connectivity for critical business operations," NBN chief development officer of regional development and engagement Gavin Williams said.

"The Disaster Recovery service can be configured in conjunction with the primary service to activate when an outage has been detected."

NBN launches its business satellite services at the end of October.

At the same time, the company shifted its fixed wireless and satellite networks into a new business unit, with Williams at the helm.

NBN noted the new unit was a recommendation in the 2018 Regional Telecommunications Review, which had also called on NBN to allow and contribute to co-investment for area-switch technology choice upgrades.

In February, after Australia's black summer of bushfires, NBN said it would look to preinstall satellite links at evacuation centres.

NBN CEO Stephen Rue said at the time, the company sees its satellite coverage as being very helpful in the future.

"We are very conscious that these climatic conditions are likely to continue and indeed to get worse, and we're conscious that as a network we need to test our resiliency, make sure that we have a network that can either recover quickly or is backed up in some way," Rue told a Joint Standing Committee.

Last month, NBN said 1% of its network was impacted by the fires. The company said it had four force majeure events from November onwards as a result of bushfire, with 332 outages hitting 53,418 services. Due to it having 6.74 million active premises on its network as of January, the company said the overall impact affected 1% of its network.

Broken down by technology, 53% were fibre-to-the-node customers, 39% were on fixed wireless, with the remaining 8% undisclosed.

"12% (or 6,367 services) of all services impacted were directly impacted by fire over the duration of the bushfires," the company said.

"The remaining services were impacted by power outages as a result of the bushfires."

The peak impact was on New Year's Day when 22,655 services were impacted.

The figures from NBN are similar to those disclosed by an Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) report in May, which said only 3% of mobile tower outages during the bushfires were due to fire damage, and of the 1,390 total facilities that were impacted by the fires outages, only 1% of incidents were a direct result of fire damage.

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