nbn will launch its Sky Muster service in mid 2016 which will help deliver satellite broadband to rural and regional areas of Australia.

Sky Muster is designed to deliver wholesale speeds of up to 25/5Mbps1 and the optimisation plan now allows wholesale data allowances of up to 150GB per month, with plans underway for additional allowances for distance education students.

Through network optimisation, nbn has been able to provide wholesale plans with significantly more capacity than originally planned.

This increase in capacity has been made possible through a combination of covering premises with other nbn technologies and making more use of the second purpose-built broadband satellite due to be launched in 2016.

As part of this strategy, 40,000 premises are set to move to the fixed line and fixed wireless footprint, resulting in more available capacity on the satellite network.

The second satellite is also set to play a greater role than originally planned.

In effect, nbn will be utilising the unallocated capacity of this satellite to help ensure people in regional areas have access to the best possible service nbn can offer.

nbn will also implement a fair use policy to help protect the quality of service for all end users while offering generous wholesale data allowances.

nbn intends to offer these plans at a wholesale level to Retail Service Providers (RSPs) who are expected to launch retail plans at different price points to meet the various needs of their customers. These plans will likely range from relatively low-cost offers for a basic connection, through to plans suitable for heavy data users.

nbn’s entry-level wholesale plans will enable RSPs to offer up to 75GB plans per month during peak periods3. Further higher value wholesale options could allow RSPs to construct peak usage plans up to 150GB per month.

As a guide, a 75GB plan could allow more than 7 hours per day of standard definition video streaming. These plans would allow a typical user to undertake a wide variety of online activities each day including streaming ABC iView or radio, checking on the weather forecast or stock prices, online banking and downloading movies.

nbn said they are very conscious of the additional requirements of children who rely on satellite for the delivery of distance education programs. Following work with departments of education and key stakeholders, nbn will be consulting with industry on plans to provide a separate 50GB monthly data allowance to eligible distance education students2. Further trials and developments are planned for dedicated education video services over the coming year.

Federal President of the Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association (ICPA), Wendy Hick, said, “Children living in rural and remote locations have long suffered poor access to broadband. The impact on schooling has caused serious concerns amongst users.

“The Sky Muster announcement is the result of collaboration between nbn, government and organisations such as ICPA working together to address the challenges presented. This should allow Australian children to keep up to speed with their education, no matter where they live.”

nbn Executive General Manager of Fixed Wireless and Satellite Products, Gavin Williams said, “The nbn Sky Muster Satellite service will be a game changer for rural telecommunications delivering a new generation of satellite broadband to remote and isolated areas of Australia.

“We are freeing up capacity by rolling out more fixed wireless and fixed line broadband and using the unallocated capacity of the second satellite,” Mr Williams said.

Mr Williams said nbn has worked hard to deliver vastly improved speeds and data allowances compared to services over the interim service, while ensuring they maintain a good quality experience for all satellite users.

“The satellite capacity is shared between users and there are limits in place so available capacity is managed carefully and fairly. nbn is also ensuring that capacity is allocated for public interest uses like education, with the potential for this approach also to be applied for health and emergency services,” Mr Williams said.

Jessica Dickers is an experienced journalist, editor and content creator who is currently the Editor of Utility’s sister publication, Infrastructure. With a strong writing background, Jessica has experience in journalism, editing, print production, content marketing, event program creation, PR and editorial management. Her favourite part of her role as editor is collaborating with the sector to put together the best industry-leading content for the audience.

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