NBN satellite Internet plans

All you'll need is a satellite dish and a plan to get online. Prices start from $30/month.

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If you live in a regional or rural part of Australia, you'lil most likely need satellite Internet to get online. NBN satellite has improved Internet connections for many remote Aussies. The installation process is straightforward and there's a bunch of plans to choose from. Just watch out for on- and off-peak periods on satellite Internet plans which will restrict your data usage to certain times of the day.

Compare NBN satellite plans below

How to find the best NBN satellite plan

To help you find the best satellite Internet plan for your needs, here are a couple of things we think you should keep in mind when comparing plans:

On- and off-peak data allowances
Satellite Internet plans break up data allowances into peak and off-peak periods, with peak times being from 7am to 1am, and off-peak from 1am to 7am. Watch out for plans that seem to offer high data allowances but actually give you more data during hours you won't be using it (off-peak times).

NBN satellite is currently only available with Basic I (NBN 12) and Basic II (NBN 25) connections. As with fixed-line NBN, higher speed packs come at a higher price. Think about how often and what you use the Internet for - if you're not online very frequently, you could save by choosing a slower Basic I connection which will still let you do 'light' activities like browse the web and check emails.

As with many things in life - money matters. With NBN satellite, pricing will vary across different providers, depending on speed and data inclusions. Keep in mind that while cheap plans might seem like they offer a solid chunk of data, these cheaper plans are often skewed towards having significantly lower peak-time data allowances, which is when most people spend their time online.

If you're still unsure about which satellite Internet plan best suits your usage habits, check out our comprehensive guide below where we'll explain all the ins and outs of NBN satellite plans.

What is satellite Internet?

Satellite Internet is an NBN service that is mainly useful for people in rural or regional areas who don't have access to high-speed fixed-line connections. It uses satellite signals to send and receive data. The service operates via two "Sky Muster" satellites that are owned by NBN Co, which relay signals between houses and a fixed tracking station on the ground to allow Internet access.

In order to connect to the NBN this way, a house or business must have a satellite dish installed on its home to exchange data with the satellites circling the Earth. Currently, NBN satellite is only offered by a small handful of providers in Australia and not by major companies like Telstra or Optus.

How does satellite Internet work?

While the technology involved in satellite Internet is complex, there are only a few pieces of equipment required on your end to get it working:

NBN satellite equipment

  • Satellite dish. This is a big metal dish installed on your roof that can send and receive signals from the Sky Muster satellites. This allows for data transfer between your house and the outside world.
  • Cable. High-speed fibre optic cable connects your satellite dish to an NBN connection box and allows for rapid transmission of information.
  • Modem. This hooks up directly to your NBN connection box and allows your devices to communicate with it, completing the connection between them and the NBN network. An appropriate modem will be supplied by your provider if you don't already have one.

How long does it take to get connected?

So long as your property isn't particularly isolated or hard to reach, you can expect to have your satellite Internet service up and running within 4-8 weeks. In more isolated regions, you could face a wait of around 35 days, while areas that are accessible only by sea or air may take 3 months to get set up.

Where is NBN satellite Internet available?

NBN satellite is only available to those who are not covered by the NBN's various fixed-line technologies. Most people in Australia who aren't eligible for fixed-line NBN should be able to access satellite NBN. There are some geographical requirements (like having no overhanging obstructions) that must be met before proceeding with installation, but your provider will discuss any issues at the time of installation.

You can find out if satellite NBN is available in your area by entering your address into our NBN tracker.

Can you get unlimited satellite Internet?

Unfortunately, unlimited data satellite NBN plans don't currently exist, just like you can't get full-speed unlimited mobile data plans in Australia. While unlimited data is very much the norm for fixed-line connections, all NBN satellite plans are data-capped.

The main reason for this is that the two Sky Muster satellites that handle satellite traffic have a far more limited bandwidth than the network of fibres that make up terrestrial NBN. This means they can't handle as much traffic at the same time, leading to a case where too many unlimited plans would overload the network and slow it down for everybody. Limited data plans allow the network to de-prioritise people who have gone over their limit and prevents people from being online around the clock.

The closest you'll get to unlimited data on NBN satellite plans are on Sky Muster Plus plans which let you do certain activities online without eating into your monthly data allowance.

What's the difference between Sky Muster and Sky Muster Plus?

Sky Muster Plus is simply an upgraded version of Sky Muster, relying on the same satellites to function but differing a little in the features offered. Where regular Sky Muster plans count everything you do online against your monthly data cap, Sky Muster Plus plans include unlimited (or "unmetered") data for certain activities. This includes general web browsing, checking your email and visiting social media, though there are some very specific limitations to what data is and isn't counted.

Here's the main differences between the two types of satellite NBN plans:

  • Speed. Sky Muster Plus is only available at NBN 25 speeds, while regular Sky Muster can be NBN 12 or NBN 25. With Sky Muster Plus, you may also be able to access "burst" speeds above 25 Mbps at certain times of the day, if available.
  • Data. Just like normal Sky Muster plans, data is split into peak and off-peak periods. However, Plus plans tend to have the data split evenly between the two periods, whereas regular plans are heavily weighted towards off-peak periods.
  • Price. Sky Muster Plus tends to be a fair amount more per month than regular Sky Muster, usually around $25+ extra monthly for an equivalent amount of peak data. Costs quickly skyrocket with higher data allowances, with 100GB and up plans costing well over $100 monthly compared to standard plans.
  • Unmetered activities. A big draw of Plus plans. Certain activities will not count against your data use on Plus, including static text or web browsing, non-video social media content, emails and operating system software updates. In terms of what content is excluded any data routed through a Virtual Private Network (VPN) will be counted against your monthly cap, even if it falls into one of the above categories. Peer-to-peer file transfers are also metered, as is any video/audio streaming, online gaming and Voice over IP (VoIP) phone calls.

Whether Sky Muster Plus is worth it depends on whether you routinely hit your data cap and still need to access essential browsing services. It may also be worth it if you value fast speeds and can routinely access the "burst" speeds above 25Mbps.

How much data do I need for satellite Internet?

This largely depends on what you're planning to use the Internet for. The table below gives you a rough idea of how much data certain online activities use up:

ActivityAverage data use
Web surfing2.5MB per page (about 60MB per hour)
Social media2.5MB per minute (with video content)
Music streaming1.5MB per minute
Standard video streaming12MB per minute
HD video streaming25MB per minute
Data usage calculator
Not sure how much data you use each month? We've got an easy data usage calculator that will give you an estimate in 90 seconds.
Click here to calculate your usage

Of course, when you use that data is very important, since peak data limits are generally much lower than off-peak. If you download a bunch of movies during the early hours of the morning and watch them during the day, you'll be able to get away with much cheaper NBN satellite plans.

What is the cost of satellite Internet?

Satellite Internet plans vary widely in cost depending on speed and data, but start at around $40 monthly and go up to over $100. With satellite NBN, unlike fixed-line connections, you pay increasingly more for each GB of data, such that $5 may buy you an extra 15GB peak data at lower speeds but less than 10GB for faster speeds.

The most important thing to consider is when you're planning to use data, since it's split up into peak and off-peak. Off-peak data is largely useless to a regular customer, but if you're willing to do most of your downloads in the early morning or use the Internet then, you could save a huge amount of money.

Sky Muster Plus plans are great for users who don't stream much video, since you need barely any data otherwise.

What is the fastest satellite Internet speed?

Currently, using the Sky Muster satellites, residents have access to a maximum possible download speed of 25Mbps and a maximum upload speed of 5Mbps. This is equivalent to the Basic II tier offered by the NBN that metro-based residents can choose from. While it might not seem very fast, this is a huge upgrade from previous technologies that offered a download speed of a mere 6Mbps.

Realistically, how fast your satellite Internet will actually be depends on a couple of factors, including the quality of your broadband equipment, the plan you're on and the location of your house (which determines how well it can communicate with the satellites).

No matter what, your maximum speed will be half or a quarter of what you could get with a normal wired connection. It's also worth noting that data limits tend to be lower for this kind of service, with NBN satellite lacking plans that offer more than a few hundred GB a month.

Is satellite Internet a good option?

When it comes to getting an NBN connection in rural areas, it's less about what makes a 'good' option and rather doing the best with what connection type you're given.

The good news is that if you're unhappy about the speeds and service you're receiving from satellite Internet, there may be other alternatives to satellite NBN, so long as you have enough mobile network coverage. A huge number of rural and regional areas enjoy mobile coverage thanks to Telstra and, more recently, Optus.

With mobile broadband, you'll be able to get data via the regular mobile network, and it could potentially be easier to set up and faster than what satellite Internet can offer. There's still a decision to make, though, because mobile broadband works out to be more expensive for the same amount of data. It might only be worth it if you don't use the Internet much or you can stomach the extra cost.

Which is the best satellite Internet provider?

Choosing the best satellite Internet provider is highly dependent on where you live and what you're looking for. Whilst the major telco networks don't offer NBN satellite Internet plans, the following providers do have a variety of plans available:

Frequently asked questions

What are the Internet options for rural areas?

In rural areas of Australia, getting access to fixed-line Internet can be very difficult. Thankfully, the NBN is still available in regional areas through the use of satellite Internet and fixed wireless NBN.

As with all NBN connections, you don't really get a choice of what technology your connection uses. Your access to fixed wireless or satellite will depend entirely on where you live.

If you're looking for an NBN alternative, mobile broadband or home wireless broadband might offer you faster connections though it will largely depend on what mobile coverage is like in your area.

Is satellite Internet as fast as cable?

No. Satellite Internet maxes out at NBN 25 connection speeds, while HFC cable connections can offer speeds up to NBN 100 and beyond.

Does satellite Internet go out in bad weather?

Unfortunately, it's possible you'll lose your signal in particularly bad weather. Light rain and cloud cover shouldn't affect it too much, but heavy rain and thunderstorms can block or interfere with your signal so badly it gets lost.

What happens to my home phone connection?

With most NBN connections, the existing copper telephone connections are removed 18 months after the NBN has been rolled out in that area. This doesn't happen with satellite connections. Instead, you are given the option of keeping your copper home telephone connection when you sign up for satellite NBN.

Can you use a VPN with satellite Internet?

Technically, yes, but you can expect poor performance. VPN services rely upon high speeds and steady connections, something NBN satellite is not known for. That aside, your provider may not support VPN activity, and your use of a VPN will be metered for purposes of Sky Muster Plus.

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