The company responsible for deploying the National Broadband Network across Australia announced on Tuesday it had inked a deal with Speedcast International Limited, for its wholly-owned subsidiary Speedcast Managed Services, to be responsible for wholesaling NBN satellite services.
The AU$184 million deal is set to run for 10 years and will leave Speedcast responsible for designing, building, and managing a new platform based on the Sky Muster pair of satellites.
NBN said the services are expected to be available in early 2019.
“The provision of wholesale business-grade services over the Sky Muster satellites has been a part of NBN Co’s product roadmap since 2014,” the company said. “It will be complementary to NBN Co’s existing retail Sky Muster satellite offering and will not impact residential services.”
Under NBN’s Corporate Plan 2018-21, around 240,000 premises are able to order a satellite service although 400,000 will be eligible.
In October, NBN boosted the amount of data available to its Sky Muster users, with regional and rural users able to order peak and off-peak packages from retailers with up to 300GB of data per month at speeds of 12/1Mbps or 25/5Mbps.
The company has previously said it is considering whether it needs a third satellite to address widespread complaints about congestion and slow speeds.
“We will look at enhancing the existing technology with the two satellites that are up there today; we will look at a third satellite to see if that’s feasible; we will look at other satellites that are third party that will be up in the sky that maybe we can leverage those satellites to get more capacity; we will look at getting some other towers to relieve the congestion of the satellite beams that are coming down,” NBN CEO Bill Morrow said in June last year.
“There’s nothing that is sacred here. We are looking at anything and everything that might be feasible to offer more capacity.”
Despite the satellites being purchased by a Labor goverment, the Opposition party had called for an independent expert to review the NBN satellite service.
“Increased data limits is a welcomed concession, but the Turnbull government must now address the issues around installation failures and reliability of service,” Labor Shadow Minister For Regional Communications Stephen Jones said in September.
“We know that reliable satellite broadband is vital for rural, regional, and remote Australia.”
SpeedCast is seeing growing government uptake of its satellite communications services thanks to increasing military spending across the US, the UK, Europe, and Australia.
Hong Kong-based satellite communications company SpeedCast has acquired NewSat’s Australian teleport assets from the company’s administrators.
Documents published by the ABC have shown what the Australian government was expecting in terms of NBN funding arrangements and negotiations with Telstra back in 2009.
Subsidising the fixed-wireless and satellite networks with a regional broadband levy and SIP requirement will ensure the NBN and USG initiatives provide broadband access to all Australians, the government has said.
Over the five months since its last updated number, NBN has purchased a further 1,600km of copper.