Why the NBN needs Sky Muster II

Angus Kidman 25 July 2016

SkyMusterII

The second broadband satellite will be launched in October.

This morning, nbn announced the official launch date for Sky Muster II, the second satellite being used for broadband services in areas of Australia that are too remote or too expensive to deploy any wired broadband services as part of the National Broadband Network (NBN).

Sky Muster II will be officially launched on 5 October 2016, from the French Guiana Space Centre in South America. The first Sky Muster satellite was launched on 1 October last year from the same location. Services using Sky Muster officially went on sale in April this year. Based on that timing, we can expect to see some customers connected to the second satellite around April 2017.

So how will this make a difference? The official statement says "Sky Muster II will provide additional data capacity". A blunter way of putting that is that with an extremely strong demand for satellite services, one satellite was never going to be enough.

Around 400,000 homes and businesses will eventually have access to Sky Muster services. At launch, analysis by finder suggested this covered around 11,517 locations, roughly one-fifth of which were on Norfolk Island. By 2020, nbn aims to have all 400,000 of those rural locations covered.

Satellite broadband is still largely slower than any of the fibre- or cable-based options which urban Australians can access. The maximum potential speed is 25Mbps for downloads and 5Mbps for upload, and that's very much a best-case scenario. However, it's a lot faster than what was available before.

Roll back a decade and the only option in remote locations was a much slower service which used satellite for download, dial-up for uploads, and cost an absolute fortune. Given that, it's little surprise that the interim service which nbn rolled out before launching its own satellites rapidly became over-subscribed and had to be closed to new customers.

Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears Monday through Friday on finder.com.au.

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