Half-a-billion-dollar satellite launches to beam broadband to Australia’s most remote areas

A rocket carrying a satellite worth an estimated half-a-billion Australian dollars (around US$350-million) has successfully launched from French Guiana today. The aim? To bring high-speed broadband access to around 400 000 homes and businesses in remote areas of Australia.

ABC reports that the organisation behind this expensive initiative, the National Broadband Network (NBN), expects to connect 200 000 premises by the second half of next year, including Norfolk, Christmas, Macquarie and Cocos islands.

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NBN spokeswoman Frances Kearey told ABC that “It’s one of the world’s largest communication satellites and is purpose-built to deliver broadband to Australia — an incredibly vast country”.

Kearey stressed the importance of this project in that it will open up new opportunities in education, health, social connectivity and business.

Read more: Connecting the Karoo: how the internet is changing South Africa’s semi-desert heartland

The satellite, called Sky Muster, is expected to deliver 25Mbps download speeds once operational. Mark Gregory, from RMIT University’s School of Computer Engineering, notes that homes and businesses will be able to choose a plan that suits their needs from their preferred service provider.

The ambitious launch of Sky Muster echoes a time when big tech companies like Facebook, Google, SpaceX, Qualcomm as well as Richard Branson’s Virgin have all shown interest in this space.

Read more: Google invests $1 billion in SpaceX as 21st century Space Race heats up

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