Advanced Television

Telstra/Starlink deal analysed

October 27, 2023

Australian telco Telstra signed a mobile service agreement with SpaceX’s Starlink back in July 20233.

A report from analysts at Northern Sky Research (NSR) says the partnership aims to offer voice-only and voice plus Starlink enabled broadband packages to rural customers in hard-to-reach Australian locations.

NSR says that Starlink already has 120,000 customers “signed” for the satellite service.

“For a rural connectivity market looking for the next big solution, this partnership allows rural customers speedy access to low latency connectivity with the additional benefits of increased support and telco services direct from provider. For [Starlink] the market opens wider, increasing visibility and opportunity to capture additional direct to household (or premise) subscribers. This is a strategy with impact,” says NSR.

And NSR says there’s still plenty of scope for business. “While assessing satellite industry approaches to increasing rural broadband connectivity, NSR’s recent Rural Broadband Connectivity report found Australia to be working towards reaching the final 15 per cent of population over the next decade. Those involved in rural connectivity programs will be watching this partnership closely. Telstra’s announcement represents a huge opportunity to move the needle towards 100 per cent without government action.

Australia’s National Broadband Network (NBN) was first announced in 2009 using a mixture of connectivity options including satcom to achieve its goals. The current urban vs. rural split sees nearly 88 per cent in large cities have broadband access, approximately 83 per cent in inner regional areas, 81 per cent in outer regional zones, and 77 per cent in remote parts of the country. NSR expects, with current plans, 90 per cent+ connectivity will be achieved in the next 5 years as focus intensifies on connecting hard-to-reach locations, says NSR.

“Details of the partnership’s plan are still emerging with pricing as-of-yet unconfirmed. This is Starlink’s first Australian reseller deal however, independently, Starlink has been active in Australia for the last year with a reported 120,00 customers already signed. Statements so far note that Telstra is now working with Starlink to deliver Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite connectivity to provide bundle packages of voice and fixed broadband services in remote and hard to reach places. Local tech support and professional installation (towards the end of 2023) will also increase deal attractiveness for customers hesitant to move away from broadband ‘norms’,” states NSR.

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