back to article Loral set to build NBN Co satellites

NBN Co has awarded Space Systems/Loral an $AU620 million contract to build, deliver and deploy two next-generation Ka-band satellites to cover regional Australia. The tender follows a two-year procurement process undertaken by NBN Co and is part of a total investment of around $AU2 billion that is required to deliver the NBN …


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Anonymous Coward

Anybody know what the upload speeds on this will be. They keep banging on about upto* 12Mbps download, but conveniently ignore that upload is a little more tricky with satelite. They also ignore latency effects. If you have a +1sec RTT** for each HTTP GET request it might slow the loading of most web pages with their plethora of imbedded ads.

* upto meaning theoretically possible, but in practice will be around 5% of the listed number.

** I'm making an assumption (that may be incorrect) that these birds need to be geo-stationary to enable continuous coverage.


The upload speed figure I saw quoted in the press yesterday was 1Mbps.

I can't believe they're wasting this much money. It's supposed to service 3% of the population at a cost of AUD2 billion. A quick look for existing satellite services to the bush shows that it's already available at a reasonable price for a 6Mbps service.

The other problem is that a lot of the area covered by this is in the north of Aus, an area that is often covered by cloud for half the year. Satellite TV is hopeless during the wet season and even free-to-air terrestrial will crap out when the weather is bad.

NB Before anyone from non-tropical places chips in about clouds not being a problem I'd just like to add that where I live we can get half of London's annual rainfall in one day.


You can buy bandwidth, but latency is forever...

At 144,000 km round trip transmission distance (up/down/up/down), that's about 500mS of delay there. I think the ping delay to my work was around 800mS (woo, packets travelling half a light second to go to a machine about 50km away). I live on a farm, and used Telstra Bigpond 2-way satellite from 2002-2006, and the lag was really annoying for SSH access to my work machines from home. For web browsing, I used to open almost every page with middle-click so that I was doing something else while waiting for links to load.

Forget online real-time action gaming. And much as I tried to convince my father-in-law that Skype would be a waste of time, he insisted on trying to set up Skype webcam chats with his English relatives, before announcing (surprise!!) that it had been a waste of his time. Of course, anytime he wanted to pay for his own better access via ripoff 3G mobile broadband, he could have...

Although I was often using the satellite connection via a NAT gateway running on the WinXP box that was required for the satellite modem drivers, I think that if you were surfing the web, etc. on the box that had the modem attached, the driver software did some TCP trickery to shorten the three-way handshake when a TCP session was established - they had some kind of transparent proxying to a machine at the other end of the satellite link. Even with that, it never felt as responsive as a decent ADSL service.



Another thing the non-technical numpties espousing this system consistently fail to comprehend is that headline throughput, (ie:bandwidth) is only half the equation, the other is *latency* which satellite networks have in spades.

Latency on satellite uplinks can be anywhere north of a 1000ms, ie > 1 second which means when you click on that URL there will be around a second delay before your totally amazing* 12Mbs stream of packets starts to arrive.

This is unavoidable and cannot be improved on until somebody invents FTL communications.

Having to wait a second for every click will be *perceived* as slow by the user no matter how fast the throughput of the data link**

* totally amazing if you get anywhere near the 12Mbs they are claiming,

** for normal browsing activities, obviously large downloads such as videos may go faster.



Sorry dude, should have read the other comments before I went banging on about latency too.

Silver badge


They are promised to be "over 100Gb/s". So, we have approximately (depending on Gbit vs Gibit) 100,000/12 = 8,333 simultaneous connections at full download bandwidth per satellite. They want the two satellites to provide access to over 200,000 premises. Then of course you have weather effects. Anyone see a problem with this?

Couple it with 1+second round-trip and time division multiplexing for uploads and I can see lots of complaints if there is large-scale take up. Personally I don't think people choosing to live in the middle of nowhere can really complain at this but I doubt it'll stop them.


Eh? Singapore?

Get a grip Natalie.

Singapore is the size of the Chadstone Shopping Centre* with a population density that approaches shopper numbers on Christmas Eve.

A bloke with a goat powered cart and a hand shovel could cable up Singapore in the afternoon and still be home for tea**

I once had to sit through a meeting with some Singapore based execs just after Singtel purchased Optus, and they made the same ridiculous comparisons then, suggesting that it shouldn't be much trouble to connect up a massive percentage of Australians to the Optus network and wondering why it hadn't already been done.

As for this ridiculous satellite business, how much are they expecting to charge for this service? They are only going to service 200K people so for $620M that comes out to $3.5K per person and this does not take into account;

- The cost of the bidirectional satellite ground station required for each site

- The inevitable cost blow out

- Ongoing operating costs

- There will absolutely not be a 100% take up.

Who exactly is going to pay for this white elephant? As usual the poor suffering taxpayer has to pay up, with a bit extra on top so the assholes in Canberra can give themselves another payrise for a job well done .

Like every other policy that this utterly inept bunch of clueless cretins have put forth, this is bound to be a complete and utter disaster and a total embarrassment for the country. ***

* a massive exaggeration of course

** another massive exaggeration

*** Not an exaggeration at all

Anonymous Coward

<quote>Singapore is the size of the Chadstone Shopping Centre</quote>

Not that big an exaggeration actually. Singapore (the country) is 710km2. Brisbane (the city) is 1367km2, so almost twice the size, yet Singapore has a population of over 5M, while Brisbane is just over 1M.

Now what was that meaningless comparison between Singapore and Australia again? Funny how they bang on about population density being why they can' do so many things, yet when it is actually relevant they just ignore it.

* Figures from wikipedia, so yymv.


I can imagine the defense already...

Malcolm Turnbull: "i said "a MASSIVE new government-owned broadband monopoly.” Singapore by comparison to Australia is very small so theirs is therefore a VERY SMALL new government-owned broadband Monopoly."

See he's not wrong after all.

And another thing, singapore is not our closest neighbour. It is close but Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and East Timor are all closer.


A satellite user in Oz

I use satellite here in Aus. for my internet.

The comments above are quite correct, it is expensive, it is slow and it is laggy.

I am using the IPstar satellite with the old Aus. Broadband Guarantee setup.

Tomorrow I get a new system from NBN. It will still be over IPstar but will be 1M up and 6M down, the latency from all reports is around 600ms, somewhat better than the 1000+ ms I get now.

For the same money as I pay now I get an extra 2g per month of download capacity.

My other choice for internet is dialup.

Once the new satellites are launched we can expect 2 up and 12 down speed initially with increases later (to what I don't know), it is also expected that data charges will reduce considerably so that instead of the current 8g per month max we will be able to afford somewhat more. Currently I have a total of 6g available to me each month unless I buy more data capacity which is horrnedously expensive.

What people fail to realise is that NBN is funded from loans, during its life it is expected that NBN will repay those loans whilst at the same time cross subsidise the lossy satellite service with the proceeds from the wireless and fibre services it will offer.

If all of this comes to pass, the satellite service will not become a drain on the taxpayer, it will be subsidised by other users buying different services which will be competitively priced with existing ADSL products.

I understand people being cynical about all of this, it is headed up by governement after all. But, if all comes true, it'll be pretty bloody good. If the politicos interfere in an attempt to make it better, it will become an expensive and major cock up.



Natalie - Singapore's broadband network is neither government owned (although it is government subsidised) nor most importantly is it a monopoly. there remains facilities based competition.

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