In an industry-first collaboration, Australia’s Telstra is gearing up to offer voice and broadband services powered by Elon Musk’s Starlink to rural and remote consumers and businesses, marking a significant step in bridging the country’s digital divide.
The telecommunications giant announced the world-first deal with Starlink, following extensive testing and trials of low-earth orbit (LEO) satellite technology. The move is part of Telstra’s T25 strategy aimed at investing in improved connectivity solutions for its customers, especially those in rural and remote areas.
Australia’s unique geographical challenges have previously resulted in uneven quality of connectivity between metropolitan and rural regions. The Starlink integration seeks to address these challenges, offering a compelling alternative where traditional terrestrial networks struggle due to distance and terrain.
Telstra CEO Vicki Brady stated that the collaboration with Starlink will enhance the company’s existing mix of technologies, including NBN fixed wireless, Telstra’s mobile network, and older copper and radio networks.
The LEO satellites’ proximity to Earth and the faster signal transmission they offer are likely to provide superior experience compared to copper-based ADSL, making them more suited to modern connectivity needs such as voice and video calls.
The Starlink-powered services will be a boon to both consumers and businesses in remote areas, with a higher bandwidth business option being available in areas lacking fixed and mobile connectivity. This offer will be purchasable from Telstra both locally and in select overseas countries.
The partnership promises more than just improved connectivity. It also entails the offer of local tech support, a professional installation option, and a unique proposition – a bundled offer of home phone service and Starlink broadband services.
Details on pricing and device specifics are expected to be announced closer to the launch, which Telstra anticipates will be in late 2023.
While Starlink services are already available to most Australians, Telstra’s integration will provide significant value-adds, primarily through installation support.
The Starlink dish is not inherently roof-ready and typically requires additional accessories for such installation, a stumbling block for many potential users. Telstra’s professional installation option seeks to streamline this process.
Telstra remains silent on how this venture might intertwine with the company’s upcoming 5G Advanced plans, which promise 5G Voice and Data services to all areas of Australia via LEO satellite. Further details are eagerly awaited by both consumers and industry observers.