Optus announces 6Mbps satellite broadband service

Optus has announced plans to offer a 6Mbps satellite broadband service for outback users who live too far from potential ADSL or Mobile Wireless broadband connections.

This news arrives just after the NBN Company’s recent announcement of intentions to launch two new satellites providing complete coverage to approximately 200,000 people living in outback communities.

It would seem Optus is trying to steal some of the NBN’s thunder before the Federal government backed company can set up properly in the bush. However, the truth is this new service will be pointed solely towards business users in the mining and construction industries, as the fast speed broadband will be priced at around $200 per month. This will effectively render the service unaffordable to residential customers.

Optus satellite marketing director, Nick Leake, said: "We've identified that there's a lot of high-bandwidth users out there … it will take time to implement the proposed NBN solution; we're providing a solution that offers customers an option to get higher speeds now if they want it."

Optus is attempting to get Australian Broadband Guarantee (ABG) approval for the new premium satellite service, which is to be launched via Optus’s existing D1 satellite over the next few weeks. The ABG provides government subsidies of up to $2750 to an Internet Service Provider offering urban quality broadband services in remote locations.

As far as technology goes, the Optus D1 satellite, which is currently being used by TV networks, will broadcast a field over the entire continent. This differs from the NBN’s plan, which will use two satellites using ‘spot beams’ to focus on specific locations. Spot beam satellite broadband is thought to be more efficient, as it makes better use of available bandwidth.

The result of the spot beam style of satellite signal will be lower monthly plan fees, inferring this will be a better option for outback communities and private users who want to experience a service equal to that of ADSL currently used in Australian metropolitan areas. Optus may be getting off the starting block first, but it presumably needs to consider residential users as well as the cashed-up outback business community.