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NBN business satellite service now covers all of Australia


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NBN announced on Friday that it has hit 100% coverage on the Australian mainland, Tasmania, as well as “large islands and hard to reach remote locations” that include Christmas Island, Lord Howe Island, and Norfolk Island.

The company said this was an increase of 7 percentage points on the 93% of eligible businesses it could previously offer.

It added that it has also reduced its Layer 3 Business Satellite Service Access Bandwidth Service wholesale pricing to retailers by 40% when they sign up to “extended contract terms” with NBN. The service offered is claimed to deliver “consistent wholesale speeds” up to 50/13 Mbps.

“Whether to connect remote health facilities, mining operations, or large-scale agriculture, these enhancements help make the business NBN satellite service more accessible for eligible businesses and government organisations even in the most remote parts of continent and we look forward to delivering new capabilities to further improve the service in the future,” NBN chief development officer for regional and remote Gavin Williams said.

Earlier this year, the Elon Musk-fronted SpaceX told an Australian parliamentary committee that the company could begin to offer its Starlink broadband services to the nation’s external territories as early as 2022.

“Certain more proximate islands within the external territories, notably the Ashmore, Cartier, and Coral Sea Islands, could be served by early 2022, when SpaceX has more fully populated its satellite constellation with ongoing launches and with the establishment of gateway earth stations at proximate mainland locations,” it said.

While geostationary satellites, like the Sky Muster ones used by NBN, have latency in the order of 600-800ms, those in low Earth orbit can provide 20-40ms of latency. Starlink users last year saw internet speeds of 134Mbps.

During the same hearing, the Norfolk Island Regional Council pushed for the island to return to the way it was, which means restoring a cable connection to the island, despite the island having its own NBN Sky Muster spot beam.

The council spent AU$8 million over five years on satellite connectivity, and for its money, it now gets a 113/37Mbps primary link with a 20/4Mbps redundant link. Norfolk Island previously had a cable connection, but it was cut. The island still has a cable landing station, and in 2003 the Australian government paid to have an “extensive underground” fibre to the node network installed, which now uses satellite backhaul.

On Thursday, NBN said it would provide AU$5.2 million in the form of a “COVID-19 relief credit payment” to cover overage charges paid by retailers due to bandwidth spikes caused by lockdowns in New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia.

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