When you’re a federal government that appears to be headed for political oblivion, it’s only natural that you’re still going to try convincing as many people as possible to vote for you the next time there’s an election.
One of the ways Australia’s current federal government is trying to coax votes out of voters is by promoting its National Broadband Network (NBN) initiative as much as possible, and naturally, it is spending hundreds of millions and tens of billions to do so.
The benefits for Australians are obvious – faster Internet speeds no matter where you are, and even no matter whether you’re anywhere near the fibre-based NBN network – but the cost of the network has been a political issue that has caused reverberations and will continue doing so not only up until the election, but clearly beyond it – no matter who wins.
The latest NBN news of note is that Australia’s PM, Julia Gillard, has been visiting the Australian state of Queensland – a state where the PM’s political party potentially faces its biggest wipeout in history – and has announced that remote Australians will be the beneficiaries of a $280m contract to extend wireless satellite access to the NBN.
It’s not the first satellite broadband deal the federal government has done – the first was with “Space Systems/Loral”, with that contract reaching well over half a billion dollars at AUD $620m, with $2b in total expected to be spent on satellite NBN access.
Those hoping the satellite NBN service will deliver the 100Mbps speeds or even 1Gbps speeds that direct connectivity to the fibre NBN might be disappointed to discover that satellite broadband speeds will top out at 12Mbps, but given this is many times faster than existing satellite connections, 12Mbps speeds are a genuine and big speed boost for those relying on satellites for Internet access.
It will also take until 2015 for the satellites to be in operation, meaning the wait for fast satellite speeds will grind on for some time yet.
“Proper” broadband from satellites? It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen.