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Telstra signs deal with NBN rival, Elon Musk's Starlink

Jennifer Dudley-NicholsonAAP
Telstra has signed a deal with NBN rival Starlink to provide broadband services to regional areas. (Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS)
Camera IconTelstra has signed a deal with NBN rival Starlink to provide broadband services to regional areas. (Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS) Credit: AAP

Australia’s biggest telco Telstra plans to partner with Elon Musk’s Starlink in a move that will see the pair compete against the NBN for customers in rural Australia.

The partnership, announced on Monday, will allow Telstra to bundle its landline phone services with Starlink’s broadband offerings in deals expected to launch later this year.

The broadband services will be delivered using low-earth orbit satellites and will compete with services delivered using NBN Co’s Sky Muster satellites.

An industry expert welcomed the competition on Monday but warned consumers should carefully scrutinise prices when they were announced.

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Telstra regional Australia executive Loretta Willaton unveiled the partnership in a blog post, saying the telco would offer professional satellite dish installation and local support for customers who took up its voice and broadband bundles.

“The addition of Starlink will provide an additional connectivity option for people and businesses in rural and remote locations where distance and terrain make it difficult to provide quality connectivity with existing terrestrial networks,” she said.

Ms Willaton said the service was expected to be offered near the end of the year, when pricing would also be revealed.

She said high-speed Skylink services would be offered to businesses in rural and remote locations, and the low-latency of low-earth orbit satellite technology would make services particularly well-suited for delivering voice and video calls.

Telstra does not offer satellite services through NBN Co’s Sky Muster satellite service in Australia.

Starlink, an arm of Mr Musk’s company Space X, launched in Australia in April 2021 and charges rural customers a $199 fee for its hardware and $139 a month for a broadband connection.

The company promises typical download speeds between 20 and 100 megabits per second, while businesses can access speeds of up to 220Mbps.

Finder utilities expert Angus Kidman said the Telstra-Starlink bundles would give users in rural locations the added convenience of accessing voice and internet services from the same provider.

But he said consumers should carefully consider the price of Telstra’s bundles as the company positioned itself as a premium service and could charge a significant amount to professionally install satellite equipment.

“It’s still early days but Telstra’s pricing information will be key to deciding just how good its satellite internet plan will be,” Mr Kidman said.

“Given Starlink has been promoting $199 installs recently, Telstra will need to make sure its deal seems competitive.”

NBN Co’s satellite service connects more than 95,000 Australians to the internet across regional, rural and remote locations.

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