NBN bridges digital divide for regional Australia


The National Broadband Network is expanding its footprint into regional Australia with the launch of a second satellite into orbit this October. 

The National Broadband Network is launching a second satellite in space under moves to fast-track high-speed, fast-access services for regional Australia.

A second Sky Muster satellite is due for launch on 5th October from the French Guiana Space Centre in South America. This satellite will orbit 36,000km above earth, while strengthening the communications capacity for the outback.

The NBN’s two satellites offer a combined capacity of 135 gigabits per second. These deliver expanded services to more than 400,000 homes and businesses across regional and remote Australia.

The NBN’s first satellite was launched 10 months ago. Retailers started selling services from April, enabling rural subscribers to access high-speed, fast-access services. 

The latest launch is a “game changing service,” according to the NBN’s satellite lead architect, Julia Dickson. An October launch offers time to test a second satellite, and prepare services later this year. 


Cautiously optimistic

Alicia Garden, CEO of Grain Growers, said orbiting satellites support faster upload and download speeds. More specifically, farmers and grain growers benefit from regional access.

An October launch offers a much-needed boon for farmers. Grain Growers is “cautiously optimistic” the latest satellite will deliver on its promise.

“Digital technology represents the new frontier of productivity gains for grain farming businesses,” said Dickson. “Having access to fast, reliable broadband is essential to allow access to these opportunities.”

The value of the new satellite will be revealed by future service plans and the ability of the satellite to be “future proofed,” noted Garden. 

“As the technology comes into operation, farmers will require plans that provide adequate data allowance at a reasonable cost, so not to effectively create a road block to uptake.”


Managing the traffic

The NBN is targeting broadband access at speeds of 25/5Mbps for rural Australia. “We’ll be watching carefully as to how the system can manage inevitable increased requirements for larger, faster uploads and downloads.” 

Technologies, such as cloud-based decision tools enable growers to analysis large volumes of data. This analysis offers the potential to yield valuable production gains.

Fast and reliable broadband unlocks opportunities for farming businesses. These included remotely monitoring farm activities, automating machinery, and analysing sensor data.


Broadband not a luxury

“Tools such on online financial management have been enjoyed by modern urban-based businesses for years,” added Garden. 

“It is imperative that primary producers are able to do business on a level playing field.”

She noted that for farmers’ broadband should not be a luxury. “Fast broadband for growers is much more than a convenience used for streaming television – it’s a necessity for doing business in a global marketplace.”