NBN Co pulls interim satellite from sale

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NBN Co pulls interim satellite from sale

Service full.

NBN Co is no longer taking orders for its interim satellite service after reaching a 48,000 user limit late last year.

The company circulated a bulletin to retail service providers this week noting that the interim satellite reached capacity on December 18, 2013.

The NBN Co website has also been updated to confirm the limit has been reached.

"It is no longer possible to register for, or order a new service," NBN Co said in the advisory.

"Registrations and orders for NBN satellite services will recommence upon the product launch of the long term satellite service, which is currently scheduled for 2015".

An NBN Co spokesperson confirmed to iTnews that the 48,000 user limit had been reached.

"Demand for services on the interim satellite has been high," the spokesperson said.

The status isn't yet reflected in NBN Co's last weekly rollout information update for the week ended January 5 this year, which pegs interim satellite service activations at 44,195 — short of the 48,000 limit. (pdf)

However, news of the interim service reaching capacity comes after several months of reports about the issue.

ISP iiNet dropped its 20GB quota plan on the interim service in August 2013, citing congestion and service quality concerns. It then suspended all sales of NBN interim satellite services by mid-November over concerns that new sign-ups would not receive high enough speeds.

Meanwhile, NBN Co's weekly updates on activation numbers led to increased attention of the impending capacity limit of the interim service.

As at November last year, only satellite beams "covering central and western Australia" had capacity for new sign-ups, The Age noted.

The Government is reportedly weighing its options as to whether to extend the interim satellite service by purchasing more capacity. The interim service is based on Optus and IPstar satellites.

Answers may also emerge from a "detailed review" of the satellite portion of the NBN, which is expected sometime this year.

"The review will consider strategic options available to NBN Co to cost effectively provide coverage to areas outside the fixed footprint, as well as considering the optimal model to provide this coverage," the NBN strategic review notes.

NBN Co's spokesperson added: "We continue to review all options for satellite to provide a better service for end users."

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