The Coalition Government today announced Sky Muster satellite users are expected to receive around 50 per cent more peak data and twice as much off-peak data from October.
NBN Co will provide the extra data at no extra cost to retailers, although how the retailers structure their plans is up to them.
Issues around Sky Muster data were raised by Ministers Nash and Fifield at an NBN Co board meeting a few months ago.
Ministers had heard the concerns from customers that Sky Muster did not supply enough data allowance for some customers, particularly for businesses, and asked the NBN Co board to find ways to deliver more data to customers.
“We’re so pleased to be delivering more data to Sky Muster users,” Minister Nash said.
“For the first time, we expect customers to be able to purchase plans of more than 100 gigabytes a month of peak data.
“We’ve heard customers’ concerns and acted.
“This increase in data is a great first step and there’s more on the way, including plans created for businesses.
“This is great news for our rural communities and Sky Muster consumers all over Australia.”
Minister Fifield welcomed the news.
“The Government made plain to NBN Co in its 2016 Statement of Expectations that the company is to explore upgrades to all of the technologies used in the rollout. It is very pleasing to see that NBN Co has bought forward this upgrade to Sky Muster in line with this expectation,” Minister Fifield said.
An extra 35 gigabytes of peak data would allow, for example, a business to do do 50 more hours of high definition videoconferencing with colleagues and clients, or a student to do 25 more hours of watching university lectures each month, or a photographer to send an extra 3500 pictures a month.
Under Labor, Sky Muster users were set to receive just 35 gigabytes of peak data a month in total.
The Coalition Government has already doubled the data available to Sky Muster users above what they would have received under Labor by using the second satellite rather than have it orbit the earth as a backup.
The Government’s announcement today follows the huge improvement in Sky Muster stability, with outages down 90 per cent in April on what they were in September 2016.
Better Internet for Rural, Regional and Remote Australia co-founder Kristy Sparrow was pleased with the news.
“This is a very positive step in the right direction,” Ms Sparrow said.
National Farmers’ Federation President and Rural, Regional and Remote Communications Coalition spokeswoman Fiona Simson welcomed the announcement.
“The Rural, Regional and Remote Communications Coalition commends NBN and the Government for listening to the frustrations of our members and acting to address their concerns,” Ms Simson said.
“We hope that the plans will continue to adapt to address future needs of bush consumers.”
Sky Muster and Sky Muster 2 provide broadband services to the 3 per cent of Australians, generally in rural and remote areas, who would never get broadband any other way – including those in mountains, hills, small towns, in deserts and on islands.
Sky Muster delivers speeds of up to 25 megabits a second – fast enough to run multiple high definition connections. Retailers may however sell plans, which deliver either up to 12 megabits/second or up to 25 megabits/second.
The satellites shoot 101 beams down from 36 kilometres above the Earth to cover every inch of Australia’s 8 million square kilometres of land mass, and external territories. Each beam has predetermined data capacity, based on design work done by NBN Co under the former Government.
Now that the satellites have been active for a year, NBN Co technicians have tested these assumptions projected before Sky Muster was active and release more data. Technicians also managed to increase the speed at which data travels through the NBN “pipe” from 135 gigabytes a second to 180, which allows more data through to more users.
There are a range of online calculators which end users can use to estimate their usage: