Only a week ago, Telstra announced that it was partnering with Elon Musk’s Starlink to provide consumers in Australia’s remote and rural areas with broadband and voice services using satellite technology.
As part of the agreement, Optus will use SpaceX’s Starlink satellite constellation to supply mobile access.
“Together, Optus and SpaceX plan to cover 100% of Australia,” is how Optus is marketing this. But there’s a tiny asterisk next to that. The “Australian Radio Quiet Zone” in Western Australia, where no service is allowed to be delivered, and Australia’s Remote Offshore Territories and Islands are excluded from the 100%. Additionally, coverage needs a clear line of sight to the majority of the sky.
In any case, according to Optus’s managing director of marketing and revenue, Matt Williams, the telecom now covers mobile devices for 98.5% of Australia’s population with its current network; the inclusion of Starlink will fill in the remaining percentage.
Matt added saying, “Australia’s vastness and terrain can make it difficult for any operator to provide mobile coverage everywhere it is needed – especially in remote or hard-to-reach locations.”
“Our work with SpaceX aims to bring the coverage capabilities of satellites direct to compatible mobile handsets without the need for customers to buy additional equipment. This partnership builds on our proud history of satellite innovation in Australia.”
Contrary to what Telstra stated, the Optus Starlink agreement only addresses mobile connection. The satellite technology from the Musk business is also used by Telstra for broadband.