NBN Co have announced a new satellite internet product, Sky Muster Plus, will be launched next year.
In a win for advocacy groups, the company will offer a wholesale product that allows unmetered access for critical internet functions, freeing up data plans and putting a stop to the effects of shaping.
Users of satellite internet service Sky Muster are well used to being ‘shaped’, not shaped by experience, nor shaped for the future, but data shaped, meaning their internet slows once the data cap on their monthly plan has been reached.
Better Internet for Rural Regional and Remote Australia (BIRRR) surveys estimate 42 per cent of Sky Muster customers do not have access to a back up mobile data service, so essentially shaping means no internet access for the remainder of the month.
NBN Co CEO Stephen Rue said the data allowance exemptions would mean essential internet services, including email, general web browsing and common critical smart phone and computer operating system software updates would no longer count toward a users monthly data allowance.
“What this means for an average user is that when they exhaust their monthly data allowance, wholesale download speeds will not be slowed down for regular web activities like accessing emails or internet banking,” he said.
Other data uses, such as gaming and video streaming, would still count towards a households planned data allowance.
Rural advocacy groups have come out in strong support of the announcement.
Co-founder of BIRRR, Kristy Sparrow said the group was pleased their advocacy efforts on behalf of their 11,000 strong membership had paid off.
Last year the group travelled to Sydney with the Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association (ICPA) and AgForce to meet with the NBN Co. Unmetering of essential services was one of the ideas put on the table.
“This is a very positive step in the right direction to end the data drought that has restricted business, education and social development across regional Australia,” she said.
“When you use up your data you are slowed to a speed that is just unusable, it halts your business, halts kids education and severely limits your day-to-day interactions with the outside world.”
Ms Sparrow said it was not simply a case of heavy satellite users buying larger plans.
“The average Australian uses between 200 and 250 gigabytes of data a month.
“That’s just not available in peak time on a Sky Muster plan,” she said.
Ms Sparrow said BIRRR estimated approximately 30 to 40pc of usage will be unmetered.
“We appreciate that the NBN and the Minister for Regional Services have listened to us.”
The NBN Co said the new plans would only be available to users paying for the higher speed tier of 25Mb/s download.
- Does this article interest you? Scroll down to the comments section and start the conversation. You only need to sign up once and create a profile in the Disqus comment management system for permanent access to all discussions.