PARIS — Australian broadband provider NBN Co. Ltd. on Dec. 14 said it would offer higher satellite data ceilings by moving 40,000 customers off satellite coverage and onto fixed-wireless and fixed-line broadband service, and by using additional capacity on its second satellite.
The decision was accompanied by a move to offer students relying on distance education a special 50 gigabyte-per-month allotment, also made possible by the freeing up of new satellite capacity.
NBN’s Sky Muster 1 satellite, a Space Systems/Loral-built Ka-band spacecraft with 101 spot beams, was launched in September. An identical satellite is scheduled for launch in late 2016.
NBN is rolling out what is probably the world’s most ambitious national broadband plan including a fiber network, fixed-wireless capacity and, for the most remote locations, satellite access.
As has been the case with U.S. consumer satellite broadband providers ViaSat Inc. and Hughes Network Systems, NBN’s challenge once the second satellite is operational will be to manage data caps to assure guaranteed minimum access levels for all subscribers.
Under the plan announced Dec. 14, some 40,000 customers in areas previously designated for satellite coverage will be placed onto fixed-wireless and fiber-access plans through NBN’s retail service providers. NBN is a wholesaler of capacity, not a direct seller to the end consumer.
That will make available additional capacity on the Sky Muster spacecraft to provide peak-hour users with up to 150 gigabytes per month, double the current ceiling, during peak viewing times. NBN defines peak viewing periods as between 7 a.m. and 1 a.m.
The new policy will require NBN to make immediate use of what had been considered as spare capacity on the second satellite to offer the higher-capacity monthly downloads.
The NBN satellite system is designed to provide up to 25 megabits per second of download and 5 megabits per second of upload speeds, depending on the service packages offered by its retail network.
The amount of throughput offered by the satellite system likely will increase as coding and modulation technologies advance and produce more megabits per megahertz of raw satellite bandwidth. NBN said its system is capable of providing 135 gigabits per second of throughput, compared to 4 gigabits per second for the Interim Satellite Service now provided by Thaicom of Thailand’s IPStar/Thaicom 4 Ku-band satellite.