NBN Co has released a closed request for information (RFI) to low earth orbit satellite (LEOs) providers to further understand their offerings.
The request for information is the first step in NBN Co looking ahead to how best to meet the evolving broadband needs of homes and businesses in the nbn® satellite footprint.
The Company said the introduction of low earth orbit satellite technology over the last few years has been an exciting development. It is seeking to understand directly from the LEO operators what might be possible considering the scale of the nbn satellite footprint and user base and whether a number of unique nbn obligations can be met in order to supply services, including price certainty, network and data sovereignty and options for local support.
The Company has a strong history of embracing emerging technologies across the nbn network. It was among the first network operators in the world to announce plans to deploy extended range 5G mmWave into its Fixed Wireless network following extensive long range mmWave testing and was one of the first in the world to deploy Nokia’s next generation MF series Optical Line Terminals, which supports higher capacity fibre optic broadband technologies and multi-gigabit speeds.
The Company also continues to invest heavily across regional Australia to evolve its network. This includes premises in regional Australia who are eligible to upgrade to full fibre on demand, along with upgrading the Fixed Wireless network to deliver enhanced speeds and extended coverage, which will result in 120,000 satellite premises becoming eligible to access the nbn Fixed Wireless network and reducing the number of premises remaining in the nbn satellite footprint to around 300,000 by the end of 2024.
The Company also said its Sky Muster® satellite service remains a critical part of the network and that it will continue to enhance the service, which is being made possible by the Fixed Wireless network expansion.
Jason Ashton, NBN Co Executive General Manager for Fixed Wireless and Satellite, said:
“We are always thinking about how best to meet the evolving broadband needs of the households and businesses across Australia, including those in our satellite footprint.
“It is important that we properly evaluate the potential of emerging technologies, including low earth orbit satellites, to improve our network and fulfil our mission to lift the digital capability of Australia.
“We believe that low earth orbit satellite technology could be a part of our network in the future, so we are engaging with those that may be able to offer this as a service in order to find out whether it is feasible.
“It is crucial for us to thoroughly examine all emerging technology options to ensure that we make the most informed decisions, considering factors such as technology advancements, commercial sustainability and customer experience.
“The nbn Sky Muster satellite network remains a critical part of our technology mix and we continue to invest and make enhancements to this service for the benefit of regional Australians.”
NBN Co expects that the assessment of information received under the RFI will take several months.