NBN Co outlines criteria for satellite access

Broadband customers in rural and remote Australia must undergo a "service qualification process" in order to be deemed eligible for the Interim Satellite Service

Australians in rural and remote areas will be subject to a service qualification process in order to use the NBN Co’s Interim Satellite Service.

Following recent confirmation by NBN Co that Optus and IPSTAR have signed contracts to supply and manage the construction of the satellite service, the National Broadband Network (NBN) wholesaler has said first priority for the service will be given to those who have no access to alternate broadband.

According to NBN Co, the Interim Satellite Service, to begin in July, will be implemented in a similar fashion to the $324 million Australian Broadband Guarantee (ABG) program, which ends in June.

Those in rural and regional Australia will not be eligible for the new service if they can access a “metro comparable” commercial service, defined by NBN Co as having minimum data speeds of at least 512/128 kilobits per second (kbps), a 3 gigabyte (GB) per month data allowance, and a total end user price of $2500 over three years.

The satellites will offer a wholesale satellite service capable of peak download speeds up to 6 megabits per second (Mbps), dependent on the specific retail service provider (RSP), the number of users on the service and the customers’ own in-premise connection.

The service’s speeds were initially pegged at 12Mbps but were later revised to just peak speeds of 12Mbps on an uncontended or lightly contended satellite service.

Under the service, NBN Co will also supply customers with full equipment and standard installation at no cost.

NBN Co is now calling for applications from RSPs keen to on sell the wholesale satellite service to customers in remote Australia.

From July, a maximum of seven RSPs will be appointed to provide up to 300 services on a managed end-to-end basis, while in November the company will appoint a maximum of 20 RSPs to provide a total of 1000 services per month and to support traffic from a point of interconnect.

Both Harbour IT and Skymesh have signed on to participate in the trial of the service which runs until the rollout in July and involves up to 200 rural customers, primarily users on the ABG.

The company recently announced the first RSPs to participate in the mainland trials of the network, the first of which went live in Armidale last month.

It also confirmed expected delays to the launch of its second release sites as a consequence of protracted negotiations with Telstra.

“NBN Co has been advising communities with Second Release Sites that both the Telstra deal and the ACCC decision on points of interconnect are now being factored into the timing of future rollouts,” the company said in a statement at the time.

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