NBN Co has opened its first NBN Disaster Satellite Service in the outskirts of Canberra at the Namadgi National Park Visitors Centre.
The service aims to boost the support offered to communities and emergency services personnel during and in the aftermath of emergency events, such as bushfires and floods.
The Disaster Satellite Service provides 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 said it is the first service to be rolled out though funding provided by the federal government’s Strengthening Telecommunications Against Natural Disasters (STAND) package to increase the number of temporary emergency network services.
The grants awarded to NBN Co totaled $8.7 million, including $7 million for the establishment of the Disaster Satellite Service units at designated emergency management sites and evacuation centres across Australia.
The network provider also boosted its fleet of portable satellite services with the remaining $1.7 million, with five additional Muster Trucks and 12 additional Portable Satellite Kits. The gear can be rapidly mobilised to support communities with Wi-Fi connectivity when needed and are strategically placed and can be deployed as soon as it is safe to do so.
NBN Co expects to install 95 percent of the Disaster Satellite Services by the end of the year, with the rest in 2021 as agreed with both the federal, state and territory governments.
“The devastation of last summer’s bushfire emergency reinforced the importance of connectivity in disaster situations and the important role NBN Co can play with the retail service providers in supporting communities when they are most in need,” NBN Co chief development officer for regional and remote Gavin Williams said.
“While, of course, we hope never to see a repeat of last summer’s events, we welcome the opportunity to further increase our capabilities to support retail service providers, emergency services personnel and the communities impacted by these devastating events.”
The locations of the Disaster Satellite Services to be installed by end 2020 can be found here.