NBN, Telstra launch business satellite services

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NBN, Telstra launch business satellite services
Telstra's mobile satellite small cell

Businesses in remote and rural areas stand to benefit from two new services.

NBN Co has announced it will be making available a satellite service for business broadband and enterprise networking providers. Telstra, meanwhile, has launched a service that lets businesses fill their own black spots with a mobile satellite small cell.

NBN Co's service will use spare capacity on the company’s Sky Muster satellite to deliver business-grade services to remote and rural areas.

These services are expected to be of particular interest to businesses in areas where there is little or no mobile coverage and no fixed lines – but away from the eastern seaboard where Sky Muster is already heavily used.

NBN Co plans to offer two products to service providers for resale to business customers:

  • Broadband internet, designed for businesses requiring more broadband data, higher speeds and business-grade service levels
  • Bandwidth services are designed for businesses with more complex networking requirements including wide-area network connections to multiple locations.

Notably, the services are being built with video conferencing, cloud services, online storage, backup and disaster recovery in mind.

Service providers will be given the flexibility they need to design products and services to suit their customers, according to NBN Co executive general manager for access products Gavin Williams.

Service trials are scheduled for late 2018, with the launch of wholesale services in the first half of 2019.

Telstra service lets businesses fill their own black spots

Businesses in remote areas suffering from a lack of mobile coverage can now pay a more realistic price to have a cell installed.

According to Telstra group managing director networks Mike Wright, "The satellite small cell reduces the cost of gaining access to new coverage from hundreds of thousands of dollars for a new base station to tens of thousands, making it a realistic proposition."

The deal is that a customer - which can be a business or some other type of organisation such as a local council - provides the site and electricity supply, and pays the cost of installation, while Telstra builds and maintains the equipment.

"We want all Australians to have the opportunity to connect to our mobile network so they can embrace the benefits mobile coverage brings. We know this is a particular frustration for many businesses and communities in regional areas who want to use the innovative technology on offer to grow their businesses or connect their people," said Wright.

"For example, a local council may want to bring mobile coverage to a particular remote tourist attraction to help boost visitor numbers through social media posts, whilst an agricultural business may want to enhance worker safety by giving people the ability to connect with each other if issues arise."

Satellite small cells have been trialled at five sites during the last year, and Telstra expects another 11 to be live by July.

The first customer – Winton Shire Council – has ordered two satellite small cells.

According to Winton Mayor Gavin Baskett, the satellite small cell has "given us more control. We'll be using the satellite small cell to bring coverage to some parts of the Winton shire for the first time and to help grow tourism in the area.

"We're a remote area, driven by rural industry and tourism – all industries where mobile coverage can provide so much in terms of innovation, connectivity and safety. We look forward to getting our two satellite small cells installed and operational so we can connect our people."

The cells deliver a 4GX-lite service, which requires the use of 700MHz 4GX compatible devices.

Telstra's announcement didn't include detailed performance specifications, just the assertion that "4GX-lite can support voice, email, messaging, social media posts, browsing and basic data, although due to constraints with the satellite backhaul it is not intended to support data heavy applications, like high definition video streaming or video calling and conferencing."

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