What will NBN’s Sky Muster Plus mean for satellite broadband users?

Alex Kidman 12 November 2018 NEWS

New Sky Muster Plus plans coming next year will offer quota-free browsing for some usage types, as well as speed bursts over the current 25Mbps limit.

Customers on the National Broadband Network utilising NBN Co's Sky Muster satellite services typically see the lowest overall speeds and most limitations on their usage relative to any fixed line NBN FTTP or FTTN plan. NBN Co has today announced that it's relaxing the rules around Sky Muster usage with plans to launch new "Sky Muster Plus" plans for its retail ISP partners to offer consumers in 2019.

Is Sky Muster Plus faster than my existing Sky Muster plan?

It could be, under specific circumstances. While it's still a 25Mbps product, NBN Co advises that it can "burst above 25Mbps wholesale speed when applications and network support allows".

That's a long way from a guarantee that it will, because clearly that will be a matter of overall network utilisation. It doesn't take too much crystal ball gazing to suggest you're not likely to see 25Mbps+ speeds during peak evening times. If you're a serious night owl, you might see improved speeds during the midnight hours, which could be useful if you need to schedule any bandwidth intensive activities.

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Will I be able to get an unlimited data Sky Muster Plus plan?

Sadly, no, with no announcement of a truly "unlimited" usage plan as part of the Sky Muster Plus offering. However, what you will get are a number of non-quota uses under Sky Muster Plus.

Which Internet services will be quota-free on Sky Muster Plus?

NBN Co states that "essential" Internet services won't attract data quota usage on Sky Muster Plus plans. It's a little thin on absolute detail right now, calling out the following services as examples of usage that won't attract a data usage charge:

  • Email
  • Regular web surfing
  • Internet banking
  • Critical software updates

Which Internet services will still chew up my data quota on Sky Muster Plus?

Streaming video is the big one that NBN Co calls out as a data usage scenario, alongside online gaming. Go heavy on Fortnite or stream too much Netflix, and you could still end up with shaped speeds on your monthly Sky Muster Plus plan.

There's a catch here too for sites that use autoplay or other embedded video types, with NBN Co noting that on those pages, if you're already over your quota, those videos will not load.

How much will NBN Sky Muster Plus plans cost?

NBN Co is the wholesale provider of the satellite services that will be sold as Sky Muster Plus, but there's no announcement as to what it will charge its ISP partners for Sky Muster Plus provisioning just yet – which means that there's also no plan pricing from those ISPs.

The existing Sky Muster plans will continue to be available, and they're likely to be a good ground point to get a picture of where Sky Muster Plus pricing is going to sit. It's feasible that the existing Sky Muster pricing will stay where it is at the ISP level, with Sky Muster Plus plans sold at a premium above that pricing.

You can check the current Sky Muster plan pricing if you're in an NBN satellite area here.

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