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NBN successfully launches Sky Muster satellite

On Thursday morning the company charged with providing Australia with the national broadband network took a big step forward, launching a satellite that will help connect citizens in rural areas to the Internet.

NBN

Citizens in Australia's rural areas, rejoice; you're one step closer to enjoying high speed Internet. On Thursday morning NBN successfully launched into space its Sky Muster satellite, which it expects will help connect 400,000 homes throughout the country to super quick broadband networks.

The satellite was shot into orbit from South America's Guiana Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana, with NBN having set up a live feed of the blastoff for those who were in the market for a good old fashioned rocket launch.

The video, which has since been condensed to just under four minutes, shows the satellite being launched into the sky at speeds of over two kilometres per second.

Sky Muster will undergo a series of tests over the next few months, and is scheduled to start providing service to Australians midway through 2016. It's one of two satellites NBN will launch as part of its plan to connect 8 million homes to the national broadband network by 2020.

"With the launch of Sky Muster, we're one step closer to changing the digital face of our nation," NBN CEO Bill Morrow said. "Many homes and businesses in regional and rural Australia still rely on dial-up level speeds and have little or no access to a commercial broadband service - this satellite will help to close the divide and ensure no-one gets left behind."

Following Thursday's launch, the government expects its Long Term Satellite Service (LTSS), which will deliver speeds of up to 25Mbps download and 5Mbps upload, will be available in 2016. For comparison, the country's download speed, currently powered by the Interim Satellite Service, was pegged at 6.9Mbps earlier this year.

Despite the claims, RMIT University's School of Computer Engineering, Doctor Mark Gregory, is unconvinced the company will be able to provide such high speeds, telling ABC: "During peak times, there's going to be a very high likelihood that traffic is going to become congested, and there's going to be less throughput of traffic, and therefore people can expect the network to slow down considerably."

Regarding the claim that the new broadband service may suffer from instances of congestion, an NBN spokesperson told CNET "it is very important to remember that the two broadband-only NBN satellites have been specifically designed to cater to Australia."

"The 101 spot-beams have been carefully planned so that they provide sufficient capacity into areas where demand will be highest," they said. "This is very different to previous satellite systems where end-users right across the country have been sharing a much more broadly spread coverage beam."

Updated on 2:22 p.m, AEST: Included comments from NBN.