The NBN Co will spend more than $34 million to give customers on its satellite service access to adequate broadband speeds and provide new satellite services for up to 9,000 additional households, farms and small businesses across Australia.
The National Broadband Network Interim Satellite Service (ISS), created at an initial cost of $351 million, has become congested with some of the 44,000 premises on the service experiencing little better than dial-up speeds during peak periods.
The ISS has also been unable to add new customers because the previous government expanded the eligibility criteria but failed to acquire new capacity to meet demand.
The measures announced by the NBN Co today include:
• $18.4 million worth of additional capacity for the 44,000 existing users of the ISS. Each user will receive around a third more capacity, which will enable them to carry out tasks like email, Internet banking and Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) services, such as Skype, during peak periods. NBN Co and retail service providers continue to work together to ensure that the end user experience is consistent with expected outcomes.
• In addition, the NBN Co has agreed to establish a subsidy scheme to allow up to 9,000 homes, farms and small businesses unable to access the ISS to access commercial satellite services. Similar to the Australian Broadband Guarantee, the new scheme will subsidise the cost of in-premises equipment and its installation. Retail service providers will set the price of the broadband packages available to consumers.
• New monitoring tools are also being put in place to allow the NBN Co to better manage existing capacity. This means that retail providers will be better able to manage ‘high end’ users unfairly slowing the service levels of all other users.
New users will be able to register for the new service in coming months.
The Interim Satellite Service was put in place to manage demand for broadband services in remote areas ahead of the launch of the NBN Co’s Long Term Satellite Service (LTSS).
The first of two Ka-Band satellites that the NBN Co will use for the LTSS is expected to be operational in the second half of 2015. The NBN Co is conducting a strategic review into the fixed wireless and satellite programs which will be publicly released this month.