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Keeping businesses connected in times of disaster

4-minute read

How nbn’s Business Satellite Service is helping to keep people across Australia – and their businesses – connected during times of disaster and recovery.

In a major strengthening of our ability – and commitment – to helping keep customers connected to the nbn™ network during times of disaster, nbn’s Business Satellite Service (BSS) is being expanded to cover 100 per cent of mainland Australia#.

The important milestone means businesses across the country – large and small, in regional, rural, remote and metro areas – have access to a business-grade broadband service over the nbn™ network*.

nbn’s Business Satellite Service installed at a Western Australia mine site after it was affected by Tropical Cyclone Seroja

And that’s something Luke Robertson, General Manager of Business Satellite Service Programs at nbn, says is particularly crucial for helping maintain business continuity when disaster strikes.

An example of the vital role nbn’s Business Satellite Service can play was when we recently moved swiftly to connect a remote Western Australia (WA) mining site to services over the nbn™ network after its communications were knocked out by Tropical Cyclone Seroja.

Luke says the stakes were high, with online connectivity critical for the mining site’s operations.

“Completing the order meant preparing the equipment in Melbourne before shipping it to Perth.

“Once it had landed, the equipment was delivered directly to the site, installed and the service activated.

“I’m pleased to say from order to completion took less than a week.

“We put our customers first and I send my thanks to our partners for their commitment.”

Luke Robertson, General Manager of Business Satellite Service Programs at nbn

Enduring disasters

While the memory of 2019/2020’s bushfire crisis is still fresh in people’s minds, this year has also been a testing time for Australia.

Along with the impact of Tropical Cyclone Seroja on WA, the country has borne the brunt of floods across New South Wales (NSW) and southern Queensland in March.

With the floods and cyclone affecting thousands of homes and businesses, and the people in them, nbn worked closely with local and national authorities to restore services and, where possible, provide temporary emergency infrastructure.

That’s because, as Australia’s digital backbone, we’re committed to helping keep people connected.

In times of crisis, it’s important to know that access to fast broadband is available – or work is being done to restore that access as quickly and safely as possible for residents and business owners.

In times of crisis, it’s important to know that access to fast broadband is available – or work is being done to restore that access as quickly and safely as possible for residents and business owners.

In Queensland and NSW, approximately 66,000 nbn™ services were affected over three weeks during the March and April floods. nbn supported NSW state emergency management in its response, repairing and replacing hardware whenever able.

Then, less than a fortnight later on Monday 12 April, Tropical Cyclone Seroja crossed the WA coast.

Over the course of three days, more than 16,000 nbn™ services were impacted, as the cyclone either damaged equipment or knocked out power supplies.

And this disruption to services went beyond WA as the backup power supply at Geraldton Satellite Earth Station (SES) was also damaged, affecting many people across the country connected to an nbn™ Sky Muster™ service.

Restoring services

As the weather improved, emergency repairs were made to the Geraldton SES and nbn™ services were restored.

Naomi Evans, Head of Regional Community Affairs at nbn, says it was thanks to a huge team effort across the business.

“Our main priority was to work with WA’s Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) to deploy assets where they needed them most.

“We started by providing connectivity to their Regional Operations Centres across the Mid-West region, then we worked with DFES to ensure communities had access to connectivity.”

This included using some of nbn’s innovative temporary network equipment.

“We deployed temporary network equipment – which included Road Muster Trucks and Fly Away kits – to Geraldton, Northampton and Morawa.”

nbn Fly Away Kit deployed in Geraldton, providing connectivity to the DFES Incident team

Part of this equipment also included charging facilities for mobile phones, information on weather, bushfire warnings and news, along with helping to provide entertainment for children of displaced families.

“We knew that as power was restored and damage assessments were completed, we’d switch to supporting the community directly.”

Being prepared for the future

Importantly, nbn’s Road Muster trucks and Fly Away kits often provided the only connectivity available for affected communities to access critical information, and to get in contact with loved ones in the immediate aftermath of these disasters.

So, to be prepared for the future and help provide nbn™ powered connectivity to regional areas in times of need, five Road Muster Trucks, 12 satellite Fly Away kits and more than 100 satellite dishes have been deployed and installed in key locations, ready should the community need them.

Tips to staying connected in an emergency

An emergency communications kit can help you to stay connected in a power outage, or if there is a disruption to services over the nbn™ network.

Staying mobile

Keep a charged mobile phone and portable mobile battery pack ready to use in a power outage, or if your connection to services over the nbn™ network is disrupted in an emergency event.

Tuning in to local info

With local radio being a great source of information during an emergency, include a battery powered radio in your emergency communications kit to tune in.

Backing up information

To make sure you can access important files and images from anywhere, consider creating a digital back up.

# Plans over the business nbn™ Satellite Service may not be offered by all providers, and not all providers offer plans based on the full range of wholesale business nbn™ Satellite Service products, product features and services. Availability of wholesale business nbn™ Satellite Service products, product features and services depend on an end user’s area.

* An end customer’s experience using the business nbn™ Satellite Service, including speeds and other performance characteristics, depend on a range of factors, such as the latency limitations inherent in satellite communications, the particular product and product features that have been selected by the service provider, the configuration of the products and product features being delivered, the time of usage in relation to certain internet-based access products, and other factors outside of nbn’s control (like their equipment quality, software, chosen broadband plan, signal reception, or how their service provider designs its network). Satellite users may experience latency.

Header image: nbn’s Road Muster Truck at the Geraldton State Emergency Centre supporting the DFES Incident team.

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