STAND by me – 500 lifesaving satellite services installed for emergency communications

The Liberal and Nationals Government has today announced in Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, a significant milestone with 500 NBN SkyMuster satellite services now installed at rural fire depots and designated evacuation centres across Australia, providing crucial connectivity for communities and emergency service organisations when land-based communication networks are impacted.

Minister for Regional Communications, Senator the Hon Bridget McKenzie, said installing 500 satellites under the $37.1 million Strengthening Telecommunications Against Natural Disasters (STAND) package demonstrates the Liberal and Nationals Government’s commitment and ability to improve disaster resilience in communities.

“We’ve seen the difference reliable telecommunications make for Australian communities and businesses during floods, bushfires and other natural disasters and also in the recovery process, helping people to access the latest information from emergency services and stay in contact with loved ones,” Senator McKenzie said.

“With 500 satellites services now installed, this program is showing its worth – as our nation was reeling with COVID-19, STAND SkyMuster Satellites were utilised in the recent Western Australian bushfires, and served us well during the floods earlier this month in Queensland and in New South Wales.”

“Nevertheless, we know that telecommunications networks are not 100 per cent resilient to natural disaster and it’s critical people do some preparation themselves, like having a portable AM radio in your emergency kit, keeping your phone charged, having a battery backup, having cash in hand, and keeping loved ones informed, and I would encourage every Australian to be prepared,” Senator McKenzie said.

Federal Member for Cowper Pat Conaghan said that the satellite service is crucial for helping combat disruptions to land-based communications that may be caused by natural disasters, by providing a high speed, redundant service that is less susceptible to damage and provides temporary connectivity.

“There are now six NBN Sky Muster satellite services active across Cowper, with another 13 planned, which will provide a lifeline during crisis as well as delivering peace of mind to the communities during an already distressing time.

“Emergency service organisations will also benefit from these services, as they will provide an additional layer of redundancy to their existing communications technologies,” Pat Conaghan said.

Senator for New South Wales Perin Davey thanked the NBN and jurisdictional emergency service organisations for their work in reaching this milestone.

“This service is making a significant difference to many people, including those in critical moments where being able to connect could save their lives and the lives of their loved ones,” Senator Davey said. 

This satellite service is just one part of the STAND package, which is also improving regional telecommunications resilience under the Mobile Network Hardening Program and delivering portable communications facilities right across Australia, along with a communications program to ensure people are well-prepared for an emergency or natural disaster.

More information on what the Government is doing to strengthen telecommunications resilience is available on the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications’ website.

Media Contact

Minister McKenzie: Cathy Heidrich, 0428 051 736

Pat Conaghan MP: Amanda Donald, 0418 928 744

Senator Davey: Chelsey Ballard, 0429 994 010