Ministers for the Department of Communications and the Arts

Senator the Hon Fiona Nash

Minister for Regional Communications

Deputy Leader of the Nationals

Minister Nash welcomes launch of Sky Muster trial

10 April 2017

Minister for Regional Communications Fiona Nash has welcomed the successful launch of the new trial involving a Qantas jet and the Sky Muster satellite.

The trial, which launched Friday, is a vital step towards potentially life-saving in-flight broadband access for the Royal Flying Doctors Service, mobile units for emergency services to use during natural disasters and mobile Sky Muster receivers for tractors and utes.

'I'm pleased this trial has gone well. In flight telehealth on Flying Doctor's planes can save lives as it means live patient data, from say a heart monitor, can be sent to specialists on the ground who can send advice back almost instantly,' Minister Nash said.

'It's fantastic to think utes and tractors will also be able to have mobile Sky Muster receivers fitted. The benefits for rural and remote businesses could be huge. It's amazing to think emergency services could access satellite broadband in deep valleys or in the mountains.

'This trial is being conducted without any effects on Sky Muster users on the ground whatsoever. The trial uses only unused data in whichever of Australia's 101 Sky Muster beams the jet is flying through.'

The trial involves a Qantas jet flying east coast routes accessing unused Sky Muster data (through a retail company which sells NBN Sky Muster access) whilst in flight. It will help develop and refine hardware and software for mobile in-flight internet access, which once tested can be used in other circumstances including by the RFDS.

In the highly unlikely event there is no unused data in the beam the jet is flying through, the jet will not be able to access any data. If for some reason it did, NBN Co can end the trial using a contract termination clause which ends the deal if a user on the ground is affected.

RFDS CEO Martin Laverty has met with NBN Co about joining the trial.

'In flight broadband would allow in injured or ill patient's medical information to be shared instantly with hospitals or specialists. It has potential to improve patient outcomes and the Flying Doctor is keen to test Sky Muster's potential,' Mr  Laverty said.

Sky Muster is an ultra-modern satellite made to deliver high-speed internet to the four per cent of Australians who would never have received broadband any other way. Sky Muster is a big part of the rural and remote NBN access under both the Coalition and Labor Party.

ENDS

Media contacts:
Minister Nash: Les White 0409 805 122 les.white@regional.gov.au
RFDS: Lana Mitchell 0401 946 282 lana.mitchell@rfds.org.au

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