news Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull this morning revealed the first of two satellites planned for the National Broadband Network will launch on 1 October this year from French Guiana, describing the infrastructure as “literally a marvel of science”.
In a statement, the Minister said the nbn long term satellite service will be “a game changer” for those living in the bush and would help bridge the digital divide currently experienced by many. The second satellite will be launched later next year. The pair will cover some 200,000 remote homes and businesses.
Minister Turnbull said the next-generation ka-band satellites would deliver world-class performance and peak speeds of up to 25 megabits per second regardless of where people lived. “This means that Australians living in rural and regional areas will have access to a satellite service much better than they currently experience,” he said. “The Government remains committed to rolling out the national broadband network to all Australians by 2020.”
The Minister also held a separate press conference at the Questacon National Science and Technology Centre in Canberra with the winner of the NBN company’s competition which saw children all around Australia draw a picture to appear on the nose cone of the rocket that will carry the satellite into space. The winner of the competition was a student named Bailey Brooks, who lives six hours’ drive from Alice Springs.
Brooks’ class also named the first satellite, which will be called “Sky Muster”.
At the launch, NBN company satellite systems manager Julia Dickonson was asked which communities would be hooked up to the satellite first.
“Well the dates of the satellite hook ups won’t be until several months after the launch. So once 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,” Dickson 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.”
Minister Turnbull was asked why the rollout had taken so long.
“Well the satellite is a non-trivial piece of infrastructure and Julia has been cracking the whip over the people at Space Systems Loral to build it but it’s a big job and it will be launched as I said on the 1st of October so that’s the time it takes to build a satellite,” the Minister said. “It is literally a marvel of science. A scientific marvel, a satellite service.”
The Liberal MP — who has been outspoken on the issue of marriage equality over the past several days — was also peppered with questions about issues unrelated to the NBN.
“Can I ask you a question about NBN if that’s okay?” one journalist asked. “NBN! We’re back to the NBN yes! Yes! As many questions on the NBN as you like,” responded Turnbull.
Good news for remote Australia — this is a massive deal, and good to see it’s happening shortly. Now we cross our fingers for the satellite launch and hope nothing goes wrong.
Image credit: The NBN company