NBN Sky Muster Satellite: Everything you need to know

02 August 2017

NBN's two Sky Muster satellites are being used to connect Australians to the National Broadband Network in areas where deploying a Fixed Line or Fixed Wireless connection would be impractical or uneconomical.

What is NBN's Sky Muster Satellite service?

NBN's Satellite service is made of up two satellites - referred to Sky Muster and Sky Muster II - working in tandem to provide NBN access for those in regional and rural Australia. 10 ground stations across Australia will beam internet up to the pair of Sky Muster satellites, which will then beam it down to satellite dishes attached to homes connected to the National Broadband Network.

Who is getting Sky Muster Satellite? 

3% of Australians will connect to the National Broadband Network via Satellite, or approximately 400,000 homes and businesses. Customers connecting to the National Broadband Network through Satellite are will typically be located in remote, regional or rural Australia. Many of these areas currently have limited internet connectivity, and in some cases, none at all.

How long does it take to connected to NBN's Sky Muster Satellite service?

Installation times vary depending on your location. NBN attempts to get most Satellite customers online within 20 business days. Customers in more isolated areas can expect to wait up to 35 business days. If your home or office is only accessible via air or water, you could be waiting as long as 90 business days.

What equipment do I need for a Sky Muster Satellite NBN Connection?

When you connect to a Satellite NBN service, a satellite dish will be mounted on either your roof or the side of your house. This is a different dish to that used by customers who may have been on the interim satellite service. If you're transferring, you'll have the option to have your old equipment removed when you get connected to the National Broadband Network.

Two cables are used to connect the dish to your satellite modem, which is located inside your home. If you sign up for a 24-month internet contract, your telco will almost certainly include a Satellite-compatible modem with your plan.

What happens to my phone line when I sign up for a NBN Sky Muster Satellite service?

With most NBN services, your copper phone line is disconnected when you move to the National Broadband Network. This isn't the case with satellite NBN connections, and you'll have the option of retaining your existing copper landline telephone when you sign up for a satellite NBN service. 

How fast is NBN's Sky Muster Satellite service?

NBN customers connected via the Sky Muster satellite service expect download speeds of up to 25Mbps, and upload speeds of up to 5Mbps. Your maximum speeds will be determined by the type of connection you pay for. A basic NBN connection will provide speeds of up to 12Mbps. The next step up is 25Mbps.

Congestion during peak hours can however mean you won't always achieve the top speed attainable on the tier.

Concerns have been raised as to how reliable NBN Satellite speeds will be when all 400,000 premises customers are connected to the network.

The two Sky Muster satellites will have a combined capacity of 135Gbps, which itself is a large increase when compared to the 4Gbps interim satellite first used by NBN. However, this would equate to speeds of 0.3Mbps if all 400,000 homes and businesses served by Sky Muster were connected simultaneously.

That being said, NBN CEO Bill Morrow says that not everyone will use the service at the same time, and that he is confident that the network will be able to deliver its promised speeds.

A Satellite NBN connection will also result in higher latency, due to the long distance your signal has to travel from your premises to the Sky Muster satellite. This can affect some online activities, such as online gaming, bidding on eBay, and share trading.

How much does Sky Muster Satellite cost?

Satellite is the only NBN product where pricing varies due to technology type. In general, Satellite starts at a cheaper price point than Fixed Wireless or Fixed Line NBN, but includes much smaller download limits. Satellite NBN providers also typically split monthly download allowances into peak and off-peak, with two separate amounts for use at different times of day. NBN defines off-peak as between 1am and 7am in your local time-zone.

NBN recently announced that it will start to offer Sky Muster plans with larger data allowances, and is expecting these to be available from October this year. At present, the maximum peak download allowance is 75GB. Under the new model, you'll be able to get as much as 150GB per month (for use during peak hours) on your Sky Muster connection. 

Rather than charging excess data fees, the majority of broadband providers offering Satellite NBN services will shape your download speed to 128kbps (roughly twice as fast as a dial-up connection) until the end of your billing month.

What is the difference between Fixed Wireless and Sky Muster Satellite?

Fixed Wireless uses transmission towers and line of sight antennas to deliver internet in a maximum radius of 14km. Satellite relies on, well, satellites to deliver internet, and could potentially be connecting properties thousands of kilometres apart.

Fixed Wireless is also able to achieve faster speeds and lower latency than a Satellite connection.

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