NBN Co has unveiled the first nbn™ Disaster Satellite Service in Namadgi ACT, boosting the support offered to communities and emergency services personnel during and in the aftermath of emergency events, such as bushfires and floods.
It is the first service to be rolled out though funding provided by the Australian Government’s Strengthening Telecommunications Against Natural Disasters (STAND) package to increase the number of temporary emergency network services. These services provide additional support for disaster-affected communities where terrestrial communications networks are temporarily impacted due to power loss or damage to communications infrastructure.
NBN Co has been awarded a grant of $7 million to install nbn™ Disaster Satellite Service units at designated emergency management sites and evacuation centres across the country. Around 95 nbn™ Disaster Satellite Services will be installed by the end of the year, with the remaining locations to be completed in 2021 as agreed with Federal and state and territory governments.
The service provides a back-up communications connection using satellite technology and will be switched on to ‘disaster mode’ during an emergency event, providing free full satellite broadband functionality, including Wi-Fi and video streaming.
NBN Co’s fleet of portable satellite services has also been boosted, with a $1.7 million grant provided to purchase five additional Muster Trucks and 12 additional Portable Satellite Kits. This equipment can be rapidly mobilised to support communities with Wi-Fi connectivity when they are most in need and are strategically placed around the country so they can be deployed as soon as it is safe to do so.
Locations for the installation of emergency satellite infrastructure were nominated by the Federal, state and territory governments and relevant emergency service agencies, with NBN Co working with service delivery providers on the installation and activation of services.
NBN Co Chief Development Officer Regional and Remote Gavin Williams said:
“The devastation of last summer’s bushfire emergency reinforced the importance of connectivity in disaster situations and the important role NBN Co can play with the retail service providers in supporting communities when they are most in need.
“While, of course, we hope never to see a repeat of last summer’s events, we welcome the opportunity to further increase our capabilities to support retail service providers, emergency services personnel and the communities impacted by these devastating events.
“Last summer, we worked with retail service providers to install temporary emergency satellite infrastructure to more than 30 evacuation centres and 10 emergency response centres across New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia to support more than 5,000 residents, business owners and support staff during the bushfire crisis.
“By providing free satellite Wi-Fi services and mobile device charging facilities during the emergency we were able to help keep families and loved ones connect and provide vital communication services into areas that otherwise might not have had them.
“Our priority is to support communities and emergency services with connectivity when they need it most,” Mr Williams said.