Government program keeps satellite broadband relevant

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Government program keeps satellite broadband relevant

Next week, Internet provider activ8me will connect its 20,000th rural Australian user to satellite broadband access under the government’s Australian Broadband Guarantee.

The program, which was announced last year, is aimed at ensuring that all Australians living in regional areas have access to metro-comparable broadband. If residents of these areas do not have access to broadband services similar to that of larger cities, they qualify for free satellite broadband installation.

But in many cases, residents of rural areas don't even know they are eligible for anything more than dial-up, according activ8me senior executive Warren Ingerson.

“We do about 80 to 100 field days to get the word out,” said Ingerson. “We show people the equipment they’ll need to set up the service with. “

“Once they understand what the program is and how easy it is to qualify for, they love it.”

The fast-expanding activ8me program comes amidst controversy about the Government’s plans to increase the quality of Internet access to the whole of Australia.

Recently, the government halted its billion dollar plan with the OPEL consortium for a national wireless broadband network, after a study revealed that OPEL would not cover the required amount of under-served areas as originally agreed upon. Although those plans were abandoned, it still leaves room for the government’s planned fibre-to-node broadband network that aims to cover 98 percent of the country.

While there are those who believe satellite technology to be outdated, some satellite companies are hedging their bets that the government network may still be a long way off, and continue providing more users with satellite broadband.

And as the Australian Broadband Guarantee project has been extended further to 30 June 2009, it appears as though the future of satellite broadband is safe in Australia for a while.
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