Australia launches new communications satellite

The launch was Arianespace’s ninth mission in 2015 and also carried the ARSAT-2 satellite for Argentinian telecommunications.


Nicknamed Sky Muster, the satellite will take about two weeks to move from its geostationary transfer orbit, where it will deploy solar panels to charge its onboard batteries, before a chemical thruster is fired to lift it into its final orbital position 36,000 km above Australia. What is interesting to note is how the more substantive debate over the NBN’s satellite strategy has developed over the past three and a half years.

The cost per premises works out at A$8,000, which is expensive but less costly than rolling out terrestrial networks to sparsely-populated parts of Australia. “[The new satellites are] helping to significantly bridge the digital divide”, Fifield says.

NBN’s Kylie Lindsay said about 95,000 Queenslanders would eventually be covered by the new satellite service.

Regardless, the new satellites will bring internet speeds to rural customers that they have never been able to access before at an affordable price.

The aim of the long-term satellite service is to deliver peak download speeds of 25 megabits per second, vaguely comparable with a few urban areas.

“I would like to congratulate nbn on the launch of their first satellite for broadband in Australia”, said John Celli, president of SSL.

The satellites are still a very controversial subject though, with concerns that it’s too risky and that they won’t actually provide adequate internet to rural areas.

Labor had signed binding contracts with companies to build, launch and manage the satellites that meant any future Liberal government would have to live with what is known as the “long-term satellite service” plan.

“We’re committed to giving regional and remote Australia world-class broadband”, Williams said.

Using the latest technology, including cloud-based decision-support tools to analyse volumes of data, farmers and graziers had the chance to profoundly improve their yields and productivity.

Excitement in the farming community would, however, be mixed with trepidation, as potential users waited to fully understand the services which the new satellite will deliver, he said.

“The main thing with satellites, unlike terrestrial networks, is that they don’t have unlimited capacity”.

“We also await a clear plan from NBN as to how services will be upgraded as further capacity is needed”.

“Interestingly, rural Australia contains many people who are amongst the country’s biggest wealth generators in the farming and mining sectors”.

NBN Chairman Ziggy Switkowski said that it had been “a historic day”.

National Broadband Network (NBN) spokeswoman Frances Kearey told the media that the world’s eyes would be watching how Sky Muster delivered on its promises.


NBN Co’s two satellites, which will cover 7.69 million sq km, and the 10 ground stations around Australia will provide up to 140 Gbps of total throughput when both satellites are in operation. Once available, the service is expected to provide wholesale speeds significantly faster than those currently used now.

NBN's first satellite to blast off