NBN Co, the company building and operating Australia’s broadband access network,has introduced the first NBN Disaster Satellite Service in Namadgi ACT. The service is designed to boost the support offered to communities and emergency services personnel during and in the aftermath of emergency events, such as bushfires and floods.
It is the first service to be rolled out though funding provided by the Australian Government’s Strengthening Telecommunications Against Natural Disasters (STAND) package to increase the number of temporary emergency network services. These services provide additional support for disaster-affected communities where terrestrial communications networks are temporarily impacted due to power loss or damage to communications infrastructure.
NBN Co received a grant of AUD 7 million to install NBN Disaster Satellite Service units at designated emergency management sites and evacuation centres across the country. Nearly 95 NBN Disaster Satellite Services will be installed by year-end, with the remaining locations to be completed in 2021 as agreed with Federal and state and territory governments.
The service is designed to provide a back-up communications connection using satellite technology and will be switched on to ‘disaster mode’ during an emergency event, providing free full satellite broadband functionality, including Wi-Fi and video streaming.
NBN Co’s fleet of portable satellite services has also been boosted, with an AUD 1.7 million grant provided to purchase five additional Muster Trucks and 12 additional Portable Satellite Kits. This equipment can be rapidly mobilised to support communities with Wi-Fi connectivity when they are most in need and are strategically placed around the country so they can be deployed as soon as it is safe to do so, NBN Co also said.
Locations for the installation of emergency satellite infrastructure were nominated by the Federal, state and territory governments and relevant emergency service agencies, with NBN Co working with service delivery providers on the installation and activation of services.
NBN Co’s portable satellite infrastructure includes Road Muster trucks and Portable Satellite kits. Sky Muster satellite-equipped vehicles are designed to provide a Wi-Fi connection for emergency workers and evacuated local residents, along with the ability to display important information on external facing LCD screens. Transportable in pelican cases, the Portable Satellite kits can be transported to areas where no other communications services are available and can provide valuable support to emergency services in disaster situations.