The 4013 urban premises to receive NBN satellite

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The 4013 urban premises to receive NBN satellite

Exclusive: City areas shunted onto Sky Muster.

More than 4000 premises in “urban” electorates across Australia are being offered Sky Muster satellite services to connect to the national broadband network.

The numbers come from a fresh dump of NBN rollout data by federal electorate that was released this week under freedom of information.

While most of the data is old – pre-dating the rollout information available in iTnews’ reconstructed three-year NBN plan - the new dataset contains one striking feature: a rare, granular breakdown of NBN Co’s satellite numbers.

NBN Co has come under fire in recent months for refusing to disclose how many ADSL users will be transitioned to satellite-only broadband under the NBN.

iTnews earlier this month published an investigation revealing 62 towns promised fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) that had been switched to the fixed wireless footprint instead.

The number of urban users being put into the Sky Muster footprint has until now been difficult to calculate.

However, the electorate numbers show that 4013 premises in electorates the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) classes as “urban” are “eligible for [the] Sky Muster service”.

While 4013 is a small number – representing only 1 percent of the 400,000 premises to be covered by Sky Muster – the use of satellite in city areas challenges the way the service has been positioned.

“Sky Muster is designed to serve more than 400,000 premises in some of the most remote and isolated parts of Australia and islands such as Norfolk, Christmas, Cocos and Lord Howe,” NBN Co said in late 2015.

“Many of these Australians have no broadband options other than satellite.”

According to the electorate data, Perth urban electorates have the most premises eligible for Sky Muster at 1416.

They are followed by Melbourne urban electorates where 746 premises are eligible, and Sydney "urban" electorates where 548 premises are to be offered only satellite broadband. 

However, the Sydney "urban" numbers include Lord Howe Island which is part of the electorate of 'Sydney'.

As with other premises being shunted out of the fixed line footprint, cost is likely to be one of the main factors.

Network design could also play a role; FTTN, for example, typically works over a shorter copper cable length than ADSL, which means it is feasible - though unconfirmed - that homes in metro areas that are too far from a node could be orphaned and left with satellite.

An NBN Co spokesperson said the company took into account "a range of different factors into account when designing the NBN network."

"The cost and time of providing connections to individual premises has to be taken into account," the spokesperson said.

"Unfortunately there will be a small number of properties in urban areas where providing a fixed or fixed wireless connection will require significant expenditure and take a long time to provide a connection.

"On these occasions we will provide these premises with an NBN satellite service."

One thing to note is that the proportion of urban premises set to receive satellite is largely unchanged between the interim and long-term satellite services.

The interim satellite service (ISS) had 376 active connections from premises in urban electorates as at the 2013 federal election – slightly under 1 percent of its user base.

What the electorate data does not reveal is how many of those eligible for Sky Muster services in urban areas have actually taken them up, given the availability of faster, more reliable alternatives such as 4G.

Below is a breakdown of each capital city's urban numbers.

Adelaide Urban: 292 premises eligible for Sky Muster

Electorate Active ISS (7/9/13) Sky Muster eligible premises
Adelaide 0 1
Boothby 12 63
Hindmarsh 1  0
Kingston 5  67
Makin 5 110
Port Adelaide 1  26
Sturt 5  25

Brisbane Urban: 444 premises eligible for Sky Muster

Electorate Active ISS (7/9/13) Sky Muster eligible premises
Bonner 7 128
Bowman 38 48
Brisbane 3  0
Griffith 0 0
Lilley 2 0
Moreton 0 0
Oxley 3 0
Petrie 6  2
Rankin 2  0
Ryan 26  266

Canberra Urban: 357 premises eligible for Sky Muster

Electorate Active ISS (7/9/13) Sky Muster eligible premises
Canberra 30 299
Fenner 2 58

Darwin Urban: 34 premises eligible for Sky Muster

Electorate Active ISS (7/9/13) Sky Muster eligible premises
Solomon 1 34

Hobart Urban: 176 premises eligible for Sky Muster

Electorate Active ISS (7/9/13) Sky Muster eligible premises
Denison 17 176

Melbourne Urban: 746 premises eligible for Sky Muster

Electorate Active ISS (7/9/13) Sky Muster eligible premises
Aston 0 30
Batman 2 0
Bruce 0 0
Calwell 3 37
Chisholm 0 0
Deakin 1 0
Dunkley 4 93
Gellibrand 1 0
Goldstein 0 0
Higgins 0 0
Holt 1  37
Hotham 0 0
Isaacs 0 N/A
Jagajaga 0  212
Kooyong 0 0
Maribyrnong 0 0
Melbourne Ports 1 6
Melbourne 0 0
Menzies 0 18
Scullin 2 310
Wills 0 3

Sydney Urban (incl. Lord Howe Island): 548 premises eligible for Sky Muster

Electorate Active ISS (7/9/13) Sky Muster eligible premises
Banks 6 1
Barton 0 0
Bennelong 0 0
Blaxland 0 0
Bradfield 1 12
Chifley 1 0
Cook 0 1
Fowler 1 0
Grayndler 0 0
Greenway 1 0
Hughes 2  25
Kingsford Smith 0 5
Lindsay 4  109
Macarthur 5  53
Mackellar 6  113
McMahon 4  23
Mitchell 1 6
North Sydney 2 0
Parramatta 0 0
Reid 0 0
Sydney 3 148
Warringah 0 0
Watson 0 0
Wentworth 0 1
Werriwa 19 51

Perth Urban: 1416 premises eligible for Sky Muster    

Electorate Active ISS (7/9/13) Sky Muster eligible premises
Brand 7 74
Burt 5 60
Cowan 7 119
Curtin 2 4
Fremantle 1 312
Hasluck 105 835
Moore 4 4
Perth 1 3
Stirling 0  0
Swan 5  2
Tangney 2 3
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