Better broadband speeds on the agenda? Telstra to invest $1.6 billion into fibre projects


Telecommunications giant Telstra will invest $1.6 billion into a pair of fibre projects, one of which will see increased capacity and broadband speeds between capital cities and the other to support a satellite internet network.

The $1.6 billion investment has been announced by Telstra as “outside of business-as-usual capital”, and is expected to be spent over a five year period. 

The company’s fibre project, expected to enter production at some point in FY22, will see over 20,000kms of terrestrial cable installed as intercity fibre paths, which will boost capacity for both major cities and regional areas. 

Telstra said the new intercity links would support transmission speeds of up to 650Gbps, compared to 100Gbps currently possible. Express connectivity of up to 55Tbps (one trillion bits per second) will be possible between major capital city paths for telco providers and business partners, over six times the current possible speeds.

“This will support remote working and education needs, health services, high-definition entertainment consumption and online gaming,” Telstra chief executive, Andrew Penn said. 

It is believed the fibre network will also enhance capabilities across the mining and agriculture sectors. 

Telstra said it has entered discussions with customers who may look to invest in or make use of the fibre network, including “global hyperscalers, local telecommunications providers and construction partners.” 

As the fibre project is expected to be a multi-year build, it may be some time before customers can make use of the new network.

Telstra invests in satellite internet which could mean faster speeds

The second project to be funded by Telstra’s announced investment is the construction and management of ground infrastructure and fibre to support a Viasat satellite broadband system, for which the telco has secured a 16.5 year contract. 

Viasat is a global communications company already established overseas, however it is looking to deploy its new ‘ViaSat-3 satellite constellation system’ which will provide satellite broadband speeds of over 100mbps to residential locations across the globe.

Viasat also plans for the ViaSat-3 system to enable video streaming to commercial airlines, business jets and high-value government transport. 

Telstra says it will co-locate Viasat’s satellite access node equipment at hundreds of locations across the country and will build and manage fibre links to each site, in what it calls “the largest-scale satellite deployment in the nation’s history.” 

It is unknown when customers will be able to access the Viasat satellite service, although it will look to compete against NBN Co’s Skymesh satellite service and Elon Musk’s SpaceX-owned Starlink satellite broadband. 

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