Satellite connectivity at Qld evacuation centres

Thursday, 16 February, 2023

Satellite connectivity at Qld evacuation centres

Key evacuation centres across Queensland are now home to their very own Sky Muster satellite installations, thanks to the Australian Government’s Strengthening Telecommunications Against Natural Disasters (STAND) program.

The $37.1 million STAND program was established in response to the devastating 2019–20 bushfires and has seen the successful rollout of NBN Co Sky Muster satellite services at 62 evacuation centres across much of Queensland in local government areas such as Moreton Bay Regional, Gold Coast City, Scenic Rim Regional, Toowoomba Regional and Rockhampton Regional. The satellite services will help ensure communities can remain connected by providing evacuated residents with free access to community Wi-Fi during natural disasters when land-based communications networks are damaged or offline.

Critical to the success of the STAND program has been the close engagement and cooperation between the Australian Government, Queensland Government, NBN Co and local governments across Queensland to identify suitable locations for a Sky Muster satellite service that will best meet the needs of local communities during natural disasters such as bushfires, floods and cyclones. STAND-funded assets have already proven to be effective in supporting local communities during natural disasters including the 2022 East Coast Floods, the December 2021 and January 2022 Western Australia bushfires, Cyclone Seroja, and the June 2021 Victorian and Queensland floods.

“This is a game changer for Queenslanders seeking shelter in emergency evacuation facilities during a natural disaster,” said Queensland Minister for Community and Housing and Digital Economy Leeanne Enoch.

“Access to satellite-based internet services allowing fast and reliable access to social media to contact friends and family, as well as insurance companies and government services, is crucial when other telecommunication networks may be affected during a disaster.”

The Australian Government’s Better Connectivity Plan for Regional and Rural Australia, funded through the October Budget, commits a further $100 million towards communications resilience, including funding an expanded version of the successful STAND program. The $50 million Telecommunications Resilience Disaster Innovation Program (TRDI) will support and accelerate the development and deployment of new, innovative technologies and solutions to address known communications issues during natural disasters, including telecommunications power resilience, the need for rapid emergency restoration of services and increased satellite usage.

“In emergency situations, access to reliable communications can literally mean the difference between life and death,” said Federal Minister for Communications Michelle Rowland.

“The Albanese government is committed to delivering the investments and infrastructure which local communities need to be better prepared for natural disasters, and while no network can ever be 100% disaster-proof, these investments will go a long way towards ensuring local residents can stay connected in the most difficult times.”

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