NBN Co is seeking capability statements from satellite network operators and equipment providers as it moves into planning the network for those not served by fibre or wireless technology.
The national network builder called the invitation the "first step in an involved procurement and evaluation process supporting NBN Co's plans to provide high-speed broadband services to those areas that won't be serviced by its fibre-to-the-premises network or by wireless".
Statements must be submitted by 15 February. NBN Co will then invite five to 10 suppliers to tender for the business.
"This is an important milestone in the progress of the project, particularly for the provision of high-speed broadband services to rural and regional Australia," NBN Co executive chairman Mike Quigley said.
Quigley told the Federal Government's Realising our Broadband Future forum last month that NBN Co would rely on KA-band satellite technology to reach the "last percentage of the population" unable to be reached by other high-speed wireless technologies.
Optus is interested in this portion of the NBN build. It was positioning its satellite service for the project at the end of last year.
Reginald Coutts, a former NBN expert panellist and managing director of Coutts Communications, has long been a proponent of satellite technology for the NBN.
He has called for satellite to be considered in the lead-up to the NBN rollout.