Bush broadband to get a light shower, but no real end to #DataDrought predicted.

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Image from nbn co

After a long wait, Australia’s bush broadband users can finally get a look at nuts-and-bolts information for the new Sky Muster satellite with the release by nbn co of the Satellite Fair Use Policy… and it confirms their expectations.

Whilst they were hoping for a widespread soaking of data, the announcement of plans by nbn co for the Sky Muster satellite has provided ‘a light shower’ rather than long-term resolution of predicted data shortfalls.

“With years of dealing with almost non-existent speeds and very low data limits, rural regional and remote Australians have been looking hopefully to Sky Muster as ‘The Answer’ to their internet woes,” said BIRRR chief admin, Kristy Sparrow.

The maximum plan (issued by nbn co to retail suppliers) will be 75Gb Peak data usage, peak & off peak data limits will be set by providers. The Sky Muster Satellite is expected to be available for use by customers in four months time (April 2016).

There are 200 ‘trial sites’ currently being installed for Sky Muster by nbn co.

“While this (announcement) is better that we currently have, it by no means covers what data needs could be in a year, two years time, let alone another decade,” said Ms Sparrow.

The maximum nbn co deal of 150Gb (total) will see users speed limited if they breach the plan limit over a 4 week rolling period. The nbn co Fair Use Policy has severe penalties (for the service provider) if a user goes over the 150Gb in any 4 weeks (not necessarily their billing period). This will impact plan pricing and tiers as no provider will want plan limits breached. nbn co considers that 75Gb or more of data usage during Peak hours in any four week period constitutes a breach of its Fair Use Policy AND 150Gb or more of Data Usage in any four week period (Peak or Off Peak) also breaches the Fair Use Policy.

“As we take on feedback from people across Australia at the BIRRR Facebook group, members are very concerned that the new limits – while an improvement on current restrictive plans – will not address decent long-term service across Australia, as business becomes more and more internet and cloud based.“

Everything is app or internet dependant these days – from mapping and management of properties, to tracing cattle movements and payment of bills and accounting needs. That’s not even taking into innovative farming technology, social, health or education requirements”.

The BIRRR team were also disappointed to see off peak times announced as 1am – 7am and hope that nbn co and providers continue to investigate innovative ways to use off peak data allowances.

“The majority of members feel that these times are virtually unusable and as such the data will not be able to be accessed,” Ms Sparrow said.

BIRRR were however thrilled to see details of a second port for distance education users released, details are still to be confirmed however the port is expected to provide distance education students with a 50GB per student data allowance (to a maximum of 150GB per port), as well as expected priority of access to Skymuster.  This is fantastic news for primary and secondary students and we hope tertiary students can be included in the near future.

“All in all, whilst there has been some improvements, we are still going to have inequitable service and costs when compared to metropolitan areas,” Ms Sparrow said.

“Our main concern at BIRRR is that data usage is doubling at a rapid rate and plans are not keeping up.”

Speeds are expected to be better than current connections, with 25/5Mbps touted by nbn co. Current BIRRR survey data shows, bush broadband users endure speeds below 4/2Mbps (and often less than 2Mbps).

BIRRR predicts customers will flock to secure access to the new satellite as soon as providers have plan offers available.  Skymesh LTSS plans are available here 

As information and plans become available, the BIRRR team will post it to their website: as well as the Facebook page.

BIRRR urge all regional Australian’s to ensure they complete the regional internet access survey to ensure our voices are heard. Please access the survey here



  1. The Digital Divide has just been widened. Based on the available plans, Satellite users will pay $60 (i.e. $1.71 per GB) for 35GB on-peak (in other words, business hours). The price per GB even goes UP (to as much as $3.33!) with each higher plan, a situation unheard of in any other service.

    Metro users can get 1200GB anytime for $60 (0.5 cents per GB). (Tellnet.)

    Apart from the cost per GB for the bush, the data is of no use whatsoever for entertainment purposes. And while much is made of the assertion that the NBN should be more than just a giant VCR, the question still stands. Why would families and young people simply not flock to areas with access to 1200GB or more – anytime – for $60?

    On the old satellite you could get 60GB anytime (albeit slow) for $60. Now it’s 35GB during waking hours, and the rest is unusable off-peak 1am to 7am. That is NOT fixing the Data Drought – that’s making the Drought WORSE.

    Tree-changers will now move back to the cities in DROVES, especially if they have a family or a business. I know of several people who were waiting to see if the NBN would enable them to stay in their rural areas. Three of them have now put their homes on the market.

    Young people will also continue to leave the bush, and the death by necrosis of Rural Australia will proceed unabated.

    Now that I’ve seen what’s regarded as satisfactory, I have no expectation of actually satisfactory internet for RRRA in my lifetime, if ever.


  2. Agree with the comments above entirely. Really the new service that’s about to be released, is what the interim satellite service should of been 5 – 6 years ago! We’ve moved on since then, and user needs have grown substantially. With current average user download of 73GB / mnth, and growing at the rate of 33% per annum, in 15 years that would be around 5260 GB / mnth!!! Sounds hard to believe now, but it may well happen. 15 years ago, a 1GB plan would of been massive. Now it’s nothing, barely a day’s usage.
    Today we have HD video, moving on to Ultra HD, SD is now starting to look second rate. Webpages continue to explode in size, with more and more content, ad’s, videos, etc. The list goes on…
    While this new service will be usable for the next year or two, I suspect there is only really capacity on it for 10-20000 users, if they are to get anywhere near the data plans and speeds they’ll need. I would suggest a minimum 100 GB peak time, preferably 250GB – at least that’s somewhere in the middle of what’s available on fixed line now.
    Simple maths – 140Gbps total sat capacity with 20000 simultaneous users means peak time speeds as low as 7Mbps, or with 400000 simultaneous users, only 350kbps! Interim satellite service all over again?
    The biggest plans offered on this new service are less than the smallest plans on ADSL or fixed wireless now! Majorly disappointing!
    I’m glad they have catered for children’s education needs though, at least that will take some of the stress away. It’s unfortunate that when this system was dimensioned a few years back, it would of been adequate had it launched straight away. But due to the long lead times involved with satellite projects, this is the result. I applaud the NBN for their efforts, and do appreciate the new service, but
    I think they will seriously have to start expanding fttp / fixed wireless networks further out into the regions, and start NOW, or this will be the next broadband fiasco.


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