Australia’s NBN Co has announced an improved satellite internet service for remote area customers, which it claimed is faster and with some activities not metered.
NBN Co said its Sky Muster Plus satellite service is capable of speeds in excess of 25Mbps and will be generally available in July following commercial trials starting this month.
Because satellite capacity is limited, current Sky Muster services are metered, with quotas for peak and off peak usage, with speeds slowed to a crawl once the monthly quota is exceeded.
That makes them quite different to standard NBN internet plans, which allow unlimited data.
Under the new Sky Muster Plus service, some types of traffic, including email, basic web browsing and some software updates, won’t be metered.
Other types of traffic such as video streaming, file sharing, voice calls and VPNs will still be metered by NBN Co and throttled once the allowance is exceeded.
Significantly for users, email and basic web browsing won’t be slowed even if everything else is shaped.
The NBN Co Sky Muster satellite internet service is available to customers where standard cable services aren’t, mostly in rural and remote areas and offshore territories such as Christmas and Lord Howe Islands.
That’s provided by a pair of satellites, Sky Muster I launched in 2015 and Sky Muster II launched in 2016. These were conceived by the former Labor government of prime minister Julia Gillard as part of the original national broadband network.
NBN Co satellite broadband services, like all its services, are marketed through a range of internet service providers (ISPs). The proposed new Sky Muster Plus service is expected to be available in the second half of this year.
To assess reception of the new service, NBN Co is conducting a trial run with some customers getting access to the new service ahead of its general release.
ISP SkyMesh said it had invited customers to participate in a planned month-long trial of Sky Muster Plus.
“We received a high volume of interest but, unfortunately, there’s a limited number of test services available,” the company said.
“These services will be provided on a first-in-first-served basis.”
Harbour ISP said it was looking for 10 customers running businesses from home interested in trialling Sky Muster Plus. That would be a six-week trial starting in early June. ISP RSP Clear said it would be taking a limited number of Sky Muster Plus customers for a trial period.
Prices of the Sky Muster Plus service haven’t been disclosed. However, there’s likely to be three standard plans with differing data allowances.
Additional enhancements appear to be on the way, including unmetered data for particular applications for education and health.
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