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NBN Satellite Plans Questioned

Launceston, TAS, 29 June 2012 – Consumer action group Digital Tasmania today questioned the proposal to build a satellite earth station near Geeveston, 50km south of Hobart. The group believes that the station is not necessary and resources could be better spent connecting more Tasmanian homes and businesses to the NBN’s fibre optic service rather than fixed wireless.

Spokesperson Andrew Connor said “While Digital Tasmania welcomes any technological investment in the state that benefits consumers and creates jobs, the group questions the need and for such a facility in Tasmania.” He continued “It recognises one benefit in that Tasmanian NBN satellite customers can connect back to the two Tasmanian NBN Points of Interconnect (POI) in Launceston and Hobart, but Geeveston is remains an odd choice for this facility.”

Geeveston is very far south in Tasmania, away from the equator (where the satellites sit), from technical services and population centres. A more logical location for an NBN earth station in Tasmania would be nearer Launceston or Hobart where the POI’s have been established.

Even so, the NBN Satellite service which will comprise of two satellites in space could be maintained by just 2 earth stations, one on each side of the country just as current Australian satellites are managed. These sites are usually located where internet traffic enters the country, Perth and Sydney.

Mr Connor said “Most internet traffic originates on the mainland or overseas, making it travel through space and back to Tasmania needless – it simply introduces more delay, increases the chance of failure and raises costs for providers.”

The money spent on this station including two very large dishes, a building, equipment and personnel would be better spent connecting more premises in Tasmania with the NBN fibre optic service.

Some towns which could benefit from fibre optic NBN connections include Carrick, Oatlands, Fingal, Dover, Ross, Kettering and Stanley but are currently slated to receive a fixed wireless service despite all having fibre optic backhaul links running nearby. Digital Tasmania believes that the NBN rollout in the state will fall far short of reaching its national target of connecting 93% of homes with fibre optic, with fixed wireless taking up the slack.

Digital Tasmania remains supportive of the overall NBN rollout.