Satellite internet needs ground investment to be NBN-ready

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Satellite internet needs ground investment to be NBN-ready

The Federal Government is being advised to consider investing in the ground segment of the IPSTAR broadband satellite network to fast-track its suitability for use by the 10 per cent of Aussies to miss out on NBN fibre.

Speaking at the Broadband Australia conference in Sydney, former NBN expert panellist and managing director of Coutts Communications, Reginald Coutts, expressed concern at the lack of attention and focus on satellite broadband infrastructure.

This is despite an understanding that satellite technologies will likely play a part in NBN service provision to regional and rural areas where direct fibre or other wireless technologies such as 4G/LTE and WiMAX are deemed unsuitable.

Coutts told delegates that investment in the ground segment of the existing IPSTAR-based network in Australia could result in higher performance and better bit rates.

"There is some potential to get higher bit rates and better performance out of that IPSTAR infrastructure through investment essentially at the ground segment," Coutts said.

"The hub infrastructure and proprietary terminal equipment that is available now has been superseded since IPSTAR was launched.

"Both current terminal and control equipment on the ground in Australia could be upgraded to significantly improve performance," he said.

Coutts said he was working with an undisclosed number of parties - understood to include at least one satellite service provider - "to potentially bring [on] the benefits of satellite earlier than waiting for third generation satellites [to launch], which for Australia could be three to four years away".

Part of the advice Coutts said he is providing is around how the Government might consider investing in the ground segment.

Coutts was unsure whether fast-track schemes such as broadband blackspots may be an appropriate pool of funding for a satellite technology upgrade.

But he said he would consult the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE) on what they believe to be appropriate funding sources.

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