Sky Muster NBN satellite to launch in October

The first of the new long-term satellites that will bring high-speed broadband to remote parts of Australia will launch into orbit on October 1, although actual services will not be available until early next year.

Nicknamed Sky Muster, the first of NBN Co's next-generation ka-band satellites will launch from French Guiana and will provide internet to more than 200,000 homes and businesses.

The second satellite will be launched later next year to ensure there is sufficient capacity to meet the needs of users in regional and remote areas.

Federal communications minister Malcolm Turnbull, who notoriously criticised the purchase of the two satellites when in opposition, claiming there was enough capacity on private satellites already in orbit, said the launch of Sky Muster would be “a game changer for those living in the bush and will help bridge the digital divide currently experienced by many”.

The announcement comes after a positive report from Ovum Research last month found that the fixed wireless network that will service rural and regional parts of Australia and will eventually cover approximately 600,000 premises will be able to support more symmetric applications such as video conferencing and cloud services.

The satellites will be able to deliver peak download speeds of up to 25 megabits per second.

NBN Co's space systems managing architect, Julia Dickinson, said it will take several months after the launch before customers will be able to hook up.

“[O]nce we launch the satellites we need to test out the satellites themselves and then we have to test out the ground systems and the IT systems for the end to end service,” Ms Dickinson said.

“So several months after the launch and then all of the remote communities will have access to the service but we’ll just have to roll out the ground system at each person’s house.”

Once the satellite is launched into orbit, it will take several manoeuvres over a couple of weeks to ensure it is its final location, she said.

“Then we spend a couple of months testing out the satellite; it’s a very complex piece of equipment. So we have to test it out from end-to-end to make sure everything is going to work the way it did on the ground. The launch environment is pretty stressful for a satellite.”

NBN Co has built 10 new ground stations in parallel with the satellite, including at Wolumla, Bourke and Broken Hill in NSW, Ceduna in South Australia, Geeveston in Tasmania, Roma in Queensland and Kalgoorlie (pictured), Geraldton, Carnarvon and Wagerup in Western Australia.

“[W]hen the satellite is in orbit we have to test the whole thing, end to end, from our retail service providers all the way down to the individual equipment at people’s houses – the small antennas on their roof,” Ms Dickinson said.

Posted in Australian eHealth


0 # Andy 2015-08-21 02:07
It must be so hard for anyone without an IT background, let alone a businessman/min ister, to develop a reasonable grasp on the fundamentals of IT at a technical level. I really hope Malcolm now understands what he is saying with these sats delivering better service, and not touting it as some kind of deranged morbid form of self-proclamation.

One thing I do feel sorry that he had to inherit the NBN's mildly retarded policy to allow NBN Interim Sat Service ISPs free run to oversell quotas in every way you can.

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