Optus has pipped rival Telstra to offer broadband services on the NBN's Sky Muster satellite, albeit indirectly.
Optus has partnered with regional telco Southern Phones to sell services to regional Australians. Southern Phones will provide sales and marketing support as acting partner for Optus Satellite.
Southern Phones sells mobile, broadband and home phone services to regional Australians across the country. The company was founded in 2002 with the goal of working with local government councils to boost regional Australia with more telco support and services. Southern Phone's shares can only be held by local government councils, and dividends are paid to local government shareholders.
Optus is no stranger to working with NBN's satellites though. In 2014, Optus won a tender to provide tracking, telemetry and control services for the two Sky Muster satellites. NBN's satellite services were partially running on capacity from Optus' D-series satellites before NBN launched its own satellites.
Optus Satellite vice president Paul Sheridan said the telco saw Sky Muster as a viable and effective alternative to traditional NBN connections where needed.
“Combining Optus Satellite and Southern Phones’ regional experience is a fantastic win for regional consumers, who will be able to benefit from the dual experience and regional focus that Optus Satellite and Southern Phones has," Sheridan said.
“This new partnership will help us connect with even more regional customers and importantly, make sure that those customers are able to have the same level of support that a customer in a metro area would."
The number of Sky Muster resellers has typically remained at a handful of regional ISPs, including Southern Phones, with the country's two largest broadband providers Telstra and Optus not making an appearance. Australia's fourth largest telco, TPG, has a Sky Muster presence through two of its brands, iiNet and Westnet.
Southern Phones managing director David Joss said he was pleased to be picked by Optus, adding: "With only 80,000 of the nbn’s forecast of 240,000 Sky Muster satellite services connected to date, we look forward to offering our services across the country and making a real difference to the people in regional and rural Australia.”
According to NBN's wholesale market report, there were 54,829 long-term satellite services by the end of 2016.