Government steps in to fix NBN satellite service

The Abbott Government today announced that NBN Co will spend more than $34 million to purchase additional satellite capacity for users of the National Broadband Network's (NBN's) Interim Satellite Service (ISS)and provide access to satellite broadband for another 9000 consumers.

Senator for South Australia Anne Ruston said the Government had been forced into action to clean up another Labor mess.

"Estimates hearings in February revealed that under Labor, $351 million had been spent to provide satellite broadband for a maximum of 48,000 connections in Australia ($7300 per connection)," Senator Ruston said. "The purpose of the ISS was to provide broadband to Australians who could not access it by other means.

"However under Labor, the eligibility criteria meant that more than 250,000 premises were eligible for an ISS connection, including many which had alternative means of broadband access.

"Labor also failed to ensure that retail service providers (RSPs) kept plans to a limit of 9.7 gigabytes per month, with some allowed to offer unconstrained data allowances.

"The result has been a debacle. Consumers are experiencing severe congestion at peak times with speeds like dial-up or worse and frequent drop-outs. Many premises which can't access broadband by other means have been left waiting for a satellite connection to become available.

"Labor's recklessness with the NBN has cost Australian taxpayers an enormous amount of money (about $7 billion with only 3% of premises passed in Australia) and it continues to do so.

"The capacity upgrade announced today by Minister for Communications Malcolm Turnbull will increase the amount of bandwidth available to each user by around 30%. RSPs will be assisted in better managing high-end users and ensuring the service is not unfairly congested. Users will be able to send and receive emails, conduct banking, obtain information from websites and interact on social media.

"NBN Co will also establish a subsidy scheme – similar to the Howard Government's highly successful Australian Broadband Guarantee – to assist another 9000 eligible households, farms and small businesses to access broadband via commercial satellite."

The NBN's Long Term Satellite Service, which will replace the ISS, will be launched next year and is expected to be operational in 2016.

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