NBN aims for swift transition to new satellite service

Commercial services expected to be available in late April

NBN's Wolumla satellite ground station in NSW

NBN's Wolumla satellite ground station in NSW

NBN believes that through its partners it will have enough capacity for at least “several thousand” and potentially up to 10,000 activations a month on its Long Term Satellite Service.

Sky Muster — the first of two satellites that will comprise the LTSS — was launched in October.

The satellite and its support systems are still undergoing testing.

“In the next few weeks we’ll be ready to move into our customer field trial phase where we will have a couple of hundred end users active on the network,” NBN’s program director for satellite, Matt Dawson, told Computerworld.

“Right now we’re still going through the process of commissioning all the spot beams, optimising the network, fine-tuning everything to make sure our network, as the Layer 2 wholesaler, interfaces correctly with our RSPs [retail service providers],” Dawson said.

The field trial is expected to last six to eight weeks, with NBN believing end users should be able to order LTSS services from RSPs in late April.

“Towards the end of April when we’re all comfortable that we’ve balanced the network, we’ve optimised it, we’ve got the feedback from the customer field trial, everything’s working as it should — that’s when we’ll commercially launch the product,” Dawson said.

“The testing is going really well at the moment so we’re confident that that timeframe is what we’re looking at,” he added.

Field work to install LTSS connections will be carried out by Skybridge and Hills under contract Ericsson.

“They have a ramp up program to get that capacity, the technicians in the field, to be able to do several thousand, maybe even up to 10,000, activations a month,” Dawson said.

“That’s a substantial capacity – more than the industry has had before – and that’s why we’re confident that we’ll be able to do both interim service migrations and add new users at the same time without having long delays where people have to wait for their service.”

NBN in the 2016 edition of its corporate plan envisaged having some 400,000 premises on the LTSS by the end of the rollout. However, some users originally earmarked for the LTSS will end up with fixed wireless or fixed line connections instead.

NBN expects that it will be able to migrate users off the ISS within 12 months of the LTSS launch.

Read more: Telstra warns of potential for NBN ‘mission creep’

The second satellite for the LTSS is expected to launch later this year.

Education services

NBN is envisaging a phased rollout for its education-focussed offering that will employ a second port on satellite services. The intention is for the service to be used by students and have a separate data allowance from a household's standard monthly quota.

“From launch, we envisage having the ability for an end user to use a separate port and get their own special allowance,” said NBN executive general manger for new developments, wireless and satellite, Gavin Williams.

“[It will] be pretty much like a standard consumer-grade service but with some special treatment.”

NBN envisages the rollout of further components for the education service over the coming year, Williams said.

“We’re in consultation with departments of education and RSPs to build a more locked-down, focussed solution that includes multicast so that lessons can be beamed to multiple end points... It’s analogous to the way that a number of education jurisdictions do their ‘school of the air’ today.”

A further component will be looking at providing “rock solid” guaranteed bandwidth for end users for the purposes of videoconferencing back to a teacher, Williams said.

A working group includes NBN, state and federal departments of education and the Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association.

“We’re now in consultation with retail service providers,” Williams said.

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Tags NetworkingNational Broadband Network (NBN)national broadband networkLong Term Satellite Servicebroadband

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