In the fast-paced high stakes world of space launches and satellites the NBN is working to keep up with billionaire innovation, announcing today a plan to work with established and new low earth orbit satellite providers and understand how NBN can operate in this area.

Of course, the horse has bolted on NBN getting any new funding for a space launch if they were do try and launch their own new satellites – so with two billion dollar Sky Muster satellites already in space beaming internet to homes across Australia the question is, how does NBN keep up and stay relevant in our most remote areas.

It’s ironic really, because those areas, along with regional towns are the fundamental basis for the Government launching the NBN. Areas under serviced by Telcos, and unlikely to be upgraded in any meaningful way thanks to their small numbers of households.

Yet here we are, in 2023 and Elon Musk has launched thousands of satellites into space, Amazon is set to do the same, and their broadband offering is faster and more competitive in almost every way – except price, than what the NBN can offer.

NBN describes this space race in low earth orbit as an “exciting development”, and that they are “seeking to understand directly from the LEO operators what might be possible considering the scale of the NBN satellite footprint and user base”.

Critical here is the unique obligations the NBN has to supply services and price certainty as well as network and data sovereignty along with local support. It’s quite possible those will be deal breakers for some of the established players.

And for the narks, it’s not the first time NBN has re-evaluated it’s technology plan. The MTM or Multi-Technology-Mix was always varied, and even recently it was announced that the fixed wireless network would be developed to included 5G mmWave technology.

Interestingly, it’s not just the NBN Satellite customers who would benefit from LEO satellite service – it’s likely many Fixed Wireless customers would be perfect candidates also, meaning a strong number of customers potentially for any joint venture network.

Jason Ashton, NBN Co Executive General Manager for Fixed Wireless and Satellite, said “We are always thinking about how best to meet the evolving broadband needs of the households and businesses
across Australia, including those in our satellite footprint.

“It is important that we properly evaluate the potential of emerging technologies, including low earth orbit satellites, to improve our network and fulfil our mission to lift the digital capability of Australia.

“We believe that low earth orbit satellite technology could be a part of our network in the future, so we are engaging with those that may be able to offer this as a service in order to find out whether it is feasible.

“It is crucial for us to thoroughly examine all emerging technology options to ensure that we make the most informed decisions, considering factors such as technology advancements, commercial sustainability and customer experience.

“The nbn Sky Muster satellite network remains a critical part of our technology mix and we continue to invest and make enhancements to this service for the benefit of regional Australians.”