Australia is massive, the sixth largest country in the world by land area, with a total area of 7,682,300 square kilometers. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), as of June 2022, the population distribution was 53.1% in Metro areas, 39.4% in Regional areas and 7.5% in Remote areas.
For those who live outside the cities, their telecommunication infrastructure is more complex, often there’s simply not enough population to make the commercial return on investment to justify big dollars being spent on the bush.
Thankfully with new technology, that’s changing and today, Telstra and SpaceX’s Starlink have announced a partnership to deliver Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite connectivity to provide voice and fixed broadband services in remote and hard-to-reach places in Australia.
This is a world-first offering, and it will allow Telstra to provide home phone service and Starlink broadband services to Aussies as a bundle offer, as well as local tech support and the option of professional installation.
The partnership will also provide connectivity options for business customers, with a higher bandwidth business option available in areas without fixed and mobile connectivity. The business offer will be available to purchase from Telstra both locally and in select countries overseas.
Telstra Regional Executive, Loretta Willaton says pricing and device details closer to launch, which will happen before the end of 2023.
Telstra’s network currently uses a mix of technologies to provide voice and broadband services in rural and remote Australia, including nbn fixed broadband, Telstra’s mobile network, and older copper and radio networks.
The addition of Starlink will provide an additional connectivity option for people and businesses in rural and remote locations where distance and terrain make it difficult to provide quality connectivity with existing terrestrial networks.
One of the benefits of LEO satellites is that they are much closer than geostationary satellites to Earth, with multiple satellites that are a part of a “constellation”. This allows them to send and receive signals much faster. As well as offering great data throughput, the proximity of these satellites reduces latency, making them a great and more consistent option for services that need low latency, like voice and video calls.
The latency, download speeds and general experience in most circumstances will be far superior to copper-based ADSL and be better suited for most modern connectivity needs. Telstra’s team has been testing out in the field Starlink’s service and how they can best offer it to customers, including evolving their own modem specifically to support Starlink connectivity and Aussie households.
The Starlink project was announced in 2015 by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. The first Starlink satellites were launched in 2019, and the constellation is currently growing rapidly. SpaceX plans to launch up to 42,000 Starlink satellites by 2024.
This is a significant development for Telstra and for the Australian telecommunications industry as a whole.
Telstra CEO Vicki Brady said the Starlink agreement was part of Telstra’s T25 strategy commitment to launch a satellite product with the voice and broadband options being available to consumer and business customers.