NBN has engaged service providers Activ8me, SkyMesh, and Harbour ISP to conduct a customer field trial of its satellite high-speed broadband service with 200 users in Victoria.
Its $1.8 billion SkyMuster satellite, which was launched into orbit last October, promises to provide the national broadband network to more than 200,000 Australians, mostly in regional and rural areas.
Optus is now in control of the satellite and around half of the 101 spot beams – pencil like beams of radiation that the satellite uses to lay down its capacity – have been commissioned, Matt Dawson, program director, satellites at NBN told CIO Australia.
“We have set aside two spot beams in the Melbourne fringe, specifically set up so we can ... get the best information we can around performance from those two beams [during the field trial],” he said.
Dawson said this will be the only trial before commercial services are launched in April/May following the completion of business-readiness testing and other systems that are required to activate the satellite services.
NBN is currently testing 150 services that are actively on the network, which is helping the organisation test and calibrate the network.
“It’s just a matter of making sure everything works through our systems, through our RSP's systems, all the way through to the end user premise, the whole installation experience and of course, the performance of the product itself," he said.
Around 10 retail service providers (RSPs) have already sold interim satellite services to customers and these RSPs will be moved across to the long term service, he said.
Dawson said NBN expects up to 250,000 people to use the service at any time, but around 400,000 – who live in areas that fall into the satellite footprint – will be eligible for the service.
Dawson said the second SkyMuster satellite is still due for launch in the second half of 2006. Both satellites will have a capacity of more than 135Gb/s.
“Even though that’s a huge amount of capacity, it needs to be managed efficiently and we will still have fair use policies in place, together with the RSPs, to ensure capacity is managed appropriately,” he said.
NBN enforced a fair use policy early last year for its interim satellite service after underestimating the uptake of these services, which affected performance for users in regional and rural areas.
NBN demonstrated the service on Monday at the Enex test lab in Brunswick, Victoria. Dawson said the service performed well for basic web browsing, internet banking, and video streaming services providing connectivity of 24Mb/s download and 4.5Mb/s upload.
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