• Fixed Wireless Services
  • NBN Co’s Business Satellite Service
  • Regional Industries

A happy family using the Internet

According to an Internet Association of Australia event, rollouts of fixed wireless services to support

Western Australia’s regional industries were backed by the state government. These projects have offered a compelling ratio of cost to performance. However, there remains an urgent need for carrier-neutral backhaul in the state.

Digital economy manager at the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development Robert Smallwood told the forum that the WA government is not seeking to replace the NBN through its initiatives. “We are providing a service that fills a gap beyond what the NBN is delivering,” he said. “I think a lot of people forget that the NBN was originally envisioned not as the be-all end-all organisation that was meant to provide connectivity for everyone, but it was really designed initially as a carrier of last resort,” Smallwood stated in a speech he delivered in the event.

Smallwood then added the “People criticise NBN Sky Muster a lot, but it actually is reasonably doing what it was generally developed to do. And it's doing a relatively reasonable job at that; it's giving you access to a carrier of last resort, that gives you capacity and speeds that are better than in most cases what was there before.”

Nevertheless, he also pointed out that even NBN Co’s Business Satellite Service fell short of the requirements of some of the regional businesses in WA. From the state government’s point of view, the value of regional production is substantial enough that it is worth spending “significant amounts of money” to support it.

He also revealed in the forum that the WA government has agreed to a non-disclosure agreement with SpaceX. The government then engaged with the company about its Starlink service, and for the last couple of years with Airbus about their Zephyr program.

“Internet service providers will set up transmission towers that receive backhaul from their points of interconnect that then connect back to the content delivery networks in Perth,” Smallwood said in the forum. The transmission towers will broadcast out to an antenna on the roof of a property. From there, connectivity will then be distributed around the rest of the space as required.

“One of the great things about regional Western Australia, as well as most of other regional Australia, is that there are not many people living out in those areas. And so there's not a lot of issues with spectrum conflict when you're trying to use the class licensed spectrum,” Smallwood concluded.