blog It is very much apparent at the moment that the National Broadband Network Company’s plans to deploy satellites into orbit over Australia to help service the broadband needs of those in remote areas are up in the air. A wide-ranging review into the satellite aspect of the company’s rollout will shortly be handed down, while some commentators are calling for the two satellites and extensive ground infrastructure NBN Co is currently deploying to be sold off. Heck, there has already been at least one buyout offer from a private sector satellite telco. Into all this comes the news that NBN Co is considering deploying a third satellite to meet projected long-term demand. The Financial Review tells us (we recommend you click here for the full article):
“NBN Co is considering plans to build and launch a third satellite to serve rural and regional areas, a move that could increase the cost of the project, amid concerns the existing two satellites being built will fail to meet expectations.”
Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, as many will recall, was not originally the greatest fan of NBN Co building its own satellites. In “There is enough capacity on private satellites already in orbit or scheduled for launch for the NBN to deliver broadband to the 200,000 or so premises in remote Australia without building its own,” Turnbull said in a statement in February 2012.
As it turns out, however, and as Delimiter pointed out at the time, the Minister was incorrect, and there is indeed a very great need for NBN Co to launch its own satellites if it is to be able to service Australia’s remote areas with rural broadband. It may be this reality which has led the Minister into a change of heart on the issue. Turnbull’s latest statement on the satellite situation, as delivered in a speech to the CommsDay Summit earlier this month, is that NBN Co is likely to continue to own its own satellites for some time. At the time, the Minister said:
“… the satellite and fixed wireless networks will likely be drags on the operating budget of the NBN Co, even after the initial capital expenditure period. Although the NBN Co is exploring the possible feasibility of joint ventures – if, for instance, there are third-party assets which can assist in the build or management of the networks – there is virtually no possibility that the company will be able to offload any underperforming assets to the private sector.”
All of this is good news for remote Australia. There is a certain percentage of the nation — especially remote farming facilities — which will never be able to be serviced by fixed telecommunications infrastructure, due to the cost of reaching those areas. Subsidised satellite access is the logical way to target them, and it is pleasing to see NBN Co considering investing further in this area, even before its planned two satellites get off the ground.
Image credit: NBN Co