NBN Co launches satellite subsidy scheme

New scheme to deal with capacity constraints limiting sing-ups to ISS

NBN Co will launch a subsidy scheme to enable the 9000-strong list of users waiting for a chance to receive Internet access through the National Broadband Network Interim Satellite Service to instead access commercial satellite services.

The new scheme will subsidise the cost of obtaining and installing equipment at end users’ premises. “Retail service providers will set the price of the broadband packages available to consumers,” a statement issued by the communications minister, Malcolm Turnbull, said.

“This is fantastic news for consumers in regional and remote Australia,” Australian Communications Consumer Action Network CEO, Teresa Corbin, said.

“This is an issue that ACCAN has been pursuing for some time. It’s so important that people in these areas have a reliable internet service, particularly for parents who are schooling their children from home and businesses running from remote areas.”

The announcement of the subsidy scheme follows Turnbull revealing late last month that at the cost of $18.4 million NBN Co would increase capacity for the ISS to reduce congestion. Today’s announcement brings the total money spent on improving the ISS to $34 million.

The capacity boost will increase be from 30 kilobits per second per user to 40 kilobits per second. Turnbull also announced last month that a new ‘fair use’ policy would be implemented by NBN Co for the satellite service, along with new tools to monitor usage.

The capacity constraints of the Interim Satellite Service led to iiNet last year ceasing to sell its top tier satellite plan and in November cease signing up customers to the service altogether. In January NBN Co stopped taking new orders for the service.

"Capacity has been reached on the Interim Satellite Service and it is not possible to register for, or order, a new service," a notice posted on the NBN Co website stated.

"Registrations for services over the Interim Satellite Service have now closed and no further registrations can be accepted."

The extra capacity will be added to the ISS in May.

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