NBN Sky Muster satellite
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NBN Co has announced new measures to meet increased demand as COVID-19 restrictions drive Australians online. 

The steps are aimed at supporting increased capacity and data demand for nbn satellite services in regional and remote Australia for the duration of the pandemic.

Customers on standard nbn Sky Muster services will have their data download limits increased significantly, while for customers on nbn Sky Muster Plus services, nbn will implement an increased range of applications that will not count towards monthly data quotas.

Both standard nbn Sky Muster and Sky Muster Plus services provide access to fast and accessible broadband across regional and remote Australia. 

With standard plans, all data is metered and customers have a set amount of data each month. Currently, nbn Sky Muster Plus plans provide unmetered data for a select range of essential online activities.

nbn is offering these new measures to support retail service providers (RSPs) in passing on these benefits to their customers.

Data download limits significantly increased

Effective from 31 March for a limited period of up to three months, nbn will increase the download data limits that apply to RSPs for the standard nbn Sky Muster service, providing an additional 45GB for each standard nbn Sky Muster service at no additional cost to those RSPs.

This additional 45GB will allow RSPs, in some cases, to effectively double the average monthly download limits on retail plans offered to many of their customers.

For an RSP’s standard nbn Sky Muster services, nbn is increasing average wholesale download limits to 90GB of data on average depending on the services that the RSP has ordered from nbn. This offer is an effort to support the anticipated higher volumes of traffic as people work from home and conduct schooling remotely.

For the above offers, nbn intends to engage with RSPs and review demand on the nbn Sky Muster service following the data increase on a monthly basis and adjust the appropriate level of allocation if required.

Enhancements to nbn Sky Muster Plus

Available from 1 April on an ongoing basis, enhancements for nbn Sky Muster Plus plans will include an expansion of unmetered content. Once these enhancements take effect, all traffic on nbn Sky Muster Plus plans will be unmetered, except for video streaming and traffic via a VPN, both of which will continue to be metered.

Unmetered activities currently include web browsing, email and operating system updates. However, as part of these further enhancements, common social media applications such as Skype and Facetime will also be unmetered. These are just a few examples of where customers can now have additional peace of mind that staying in touch with family, friends and colleagues will not count as part of their monthly data allowance.

Certain unmetered activities may be shaped to wholesale speeds of 256Kbps between the hours of 4pm and 11pm daily, such as peer-to-peer traffic, uploads and downloads to cloud storage platforms, PC and smartphone operating system updates, software and gaming updates, and internet activity related to applications which nbn cannot identify.

In addition to this expansion of unmetered activities, nbn is also introducing a number of other enhancements to nbn Sky Muster Plus plans, including:

  • A new 25GB+ entry plan offering 25GB of peak data and 25GB of off-peak data for video streaming and VPN traffic, which will improve accessibility for lighter users (available from 1 April)
  • Functionality to give RSPs greater flexibility to customise the data allowances on their retail plans in increments of 5GB – starting from 25GB of peak data and 25GB of off-peak data, up to 150GB of peak and 150GB of off-peak data (available from 1 April)
  • A new ‘top-up’ feature, which will provide RSPs with the option of offering ‘top up’ data, should their customers use their monthly metered data allowance (available in coming months)

NBN Co has been working on these enhancements since the initial launch of nbn Sky Muster Plus in August 2019.

Sky Muster satellite dish and unit diagram

These new measures follow nbn’s recent announcement of a capacity boost across the nbn network for three months, to help RSPs support customers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

NBN Co is anticipating increased demand on the nbn network as more people need to spend more time at home during the COVID-19 response. nbn is working with industry and to monitor demand and any further potential required measures.

NBN Co Chief Development Officer, Rural and Regional, Gavin Williams, said that over the coming days and weeks, the organisation was expecting a higher number of people in regional and remote communities across Australia to work from home and more children to be remotely school.

“In preparation for this greater demand for data and based on feedback from internet retailers and customers, we have decided to take this action to provide additional support for that expected increase in day-time usage due to increased activity on the network,” Mr Williams said.

“Our enhanced nbn Sky Muster Plus plans will help Australians be more in touch with loved ones, work remotely, use internet banking, and access important health and education services.

“nbn will continue to closely monitor data usage together with internet retailers, and will seek to implement any additional measures required where available, including monitoring of the peak times, to support customers during these uncertain times.

“We want to reassure regional and remote communities across Australia that you are a priority for nbn.”

Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association (ICPA) Federal President, Alana Moller, said, “ICPA Australia appreciates that NBN Co has taken into consideration the needs of rural and remote families faced with the task of educating their children online during the COVID-19 outbreak.”

Better Internet for Rural, Regional and Remote Australia (BIRR) Founder, Kristy Sparrow, said, “These are unprecedented times and it’s great to see the nbn providing extra data to retailers at no cost. 

“We encourage retailers to pass the data allowance on in full to their customers. BIRR urges all users to review their current plan and ensure that it meets their needs at this time, both for data, speed and customer service.”

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