TELSTRA has today announced it is working with Elon Musk’s company Starlink to deliver Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite connectivity to provide voice and fixed broadband services in remote and hard-to-reach places.
In what it has described as a world-first offering, Telstra will be able to provide home phone service and Starlink broadband services to Australian customers as a bundle offer.
This agreement also provides connectivity options for Telstra business customers, with a higher bandwidth business option available in areas without fixed and mobile connectivity.
Telstra expects to be offering its new product to the market towards the end of 2023, along with pricing and plan details as well as to how basic voice calls will work.
“Our network currently uses a mix of technologies to provide voice and broadband services in rural and remote Australia, including nbn fixed broadband, our mobile network and older copper and radio networks,” Telstra said in a statement.
“The addition of Starlink will provide an additional connectivity option for people and businesses in rural and remote locations where distance and terrain make it difficult to provide quality connectivity with existing terrestrial networks.”
LEO satellites are much closer than geostationary satellites to Earth, and Telstra said multiple satellites allow them to send and receive signals much faster.
Telstra said the latency, download speeds and general experience in most circumstances will be “far superior” to copper-based ADSL, and better suited for most modern connectivity needs.
NSW Farmers Western Division Council chair Gerard Glover has welcomed the announcement, which he said augurs well for connectivity “in paddocks and along roads” .
“This is yet another way we’re seeing innovative technologies used to solve everyday problems in the bush,” Mr Glover said.
“While we will continue to work and advocate for improved mobile phone coverage and service, this will virtually unlock a lot of places that have never had service before.
“We would hope that as we see more of these technologies come online, we’ll see more and more people in rural and remote be able to connect with the world.”
The new offering incorporating LEO satellite connectivity is expected to sit alongside other voice and broadband technologies such as NBN fixed Wireless, Telstra’s own mobile network and older copper and radio networks.
SpaceX’s first Starlink satellite was launched in 2019, and the Starlink network hit 1.5 million subscribers in May.
It is already used by cropping, pastoral and service operations in regional and remote parts of Australia, and around the globe.
Sources: Telstra, NSW Farmers