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Australian broadband customers in regional areas will have to pass a service qualification test in order to use the NBN Co’s Interim Satellite Service.

Earlier in the month NBN Co announced that Optus, Gilat and IPstar had won the tender to supply interim satellite services from July 1 this year in a A$300 million deal.

NBN Co’s satellite services are designed to serve the seven per cent of the nation’s premises that its fibre optic cable rollout will be unable to reach, and replaces the Australian Broadband Guarantee. Over time, some of these premises will be upgraded to its fixed wireless service, leaving an expected two percent of premises served by satellite alone.

NBN Co explained that the service will also be implemented in a similar way to Australian Broadband Guarantee program, which ends in June. For example, rural, regional and remote customers will not be eligible for an Interim Satellite Service if they can access a “metro comparable” commercial service – with minimum data speeds of at least 512/128 kbps, a 3GB per month data allowance, and a total price to the end customer of no more than $2500 over three years.

The satellite equipment and installation will be provided by NBN Co, at no cost to the end-user customer for a standard installation.

NBN Co has already signed two RSPs (retail service providers) Harbour IT and Skymesh, to participate in a trial phase from now until July 2011. They plan to test the service with up to 200 rural and remote customers, primarily existing ABG service users.

The carrier has called for expressions of interest from other retail service providers who would like to purchase wholesale satellite services to resell to eligible rural and remote customers. NBN Co is planning capacity to appoint up to seven RSPs, providing in total up to 300 services a month on a managed end-to-end service basis. From November NBN Co can appoint up to 20 RSPs, providing in total up to 1000 services a month, who will need to support traffic from a point of interconnect. ®

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