UNFAVOURABLE weather conditions over the launch site in French Guiana this morning have delayed today’s scheduled launch of the National Broadband Network’s second SkyMuster communications satellite.
But the good news is that the launch should go ahead in the next 48 hours, further strengthening Australia’s satellite network for people in remote rural and regional areas.
Joining the company’s first satellite, SkyMuster II is set to orbit 36,000km above the earth, and will provide further improvement in broadband connectivity to regional and remote Australia.
Once activated, the two NBN satellites will have a combined capacity of 135 gigabits per second and provide services to some 400,000 homes and businesses in regional and remote Australia. NBN says this is around 30 times the capacity of its current Interim Satellite Service.
While there is still plenty of room on the company’s first satellite, the launch of SkyMuster II is largely for the new people coming on-stream on the NBN, the satellite’s lead architect Julia Dickinson said.
The timing of the launch this month was designed to give the company ample time to test the satellite and have it ready to go when needed, and will allow users to migrate off an interim satellite service set to be decommissioned in 2017.
“Now we’ll just be able to add additional customers until we get the expected take up of around 240,000 premises by 2020,” Ms Dickinson said.
The NBN’s first satellite launched in October last year, but retailers only began selling the service in April, giving thousands of rural Australians a significant and much needed boost in their internet capabilities.
Some 30,000 premises currently receive internet services through SkyMuster.
The SkyMuster service will cover mainland Australia and Tasmania, and remote islands such as Norfolk Island, Christmas Island, Lord Howe Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands.
For the technically-minded, the wholesale speed options that will be available to internet service providers via the new satellite service are 12Mbps download with a 1Mbps upload, or 25Mbps download with a 5Mbps upload. The 25Mbps (wholesale) download option is designed to revolutionise fast broadband for regional and remote Australia, NBN says.
When complete, the technology will help bridge Australia’s digital divide for around 400,000 homes and businesses in regional and remote Australia by providing them with better access to distance online education, healthcare services, and the ability for our outback businesses to to run more efficient operations.