Introducing nbn Sky Muster Plus

nbn Sky Muster Plus is an exciting new product development for regional internet users. It will allow for the development of Sky Muster plans that provide unmetered access across web browsing, email, smart phone and PC operating system updates, and these downloads will not count toward monthly data allowances.  Data allowances will count metered data for applications such as music and video streaming, voice services and file sharing applications. You can read the BIRRR press release here

NB: Web activities that will be unmetered will be finalised after the consultation process.

Unmetered = data that is not measured or counted as part of your monthly usage
Metered = data that is measured or counted as part of your monthly usage – this is the data that will be counted in your Sky Muster Plus plan.

The Sky Muster Plus product is still in consultation phase. No doubt you have many questions, which will be answered once the consultation period is completed.  What we do know is listed below.

  • The product is set to launch in 2019.
  • It will require an end user (customer) to purchase a Sky Muster Plus plan from their provider, it will not be automatic.
  • When plans are released, Sky Muster users will need to contact their provider (not nbn) to organise a Sky Muster Plus plan.
  • In addition to the unmetered content the new product will help deliver faster download speeds by providing access to a wholesale 25Mbps product that can also burst up to 50Mbps wholesale speed, when applications and network support allows.
  • Sky Muster Plus will only be available on the 25/5Mbps speed tier.
  • Providers will be responsible for setting retail prices and these will be announced after the consultation process.

What will be unmetered?

Things like web browsing, emails and software updates.

What will be metered?

Things like video and music streaming, file sharing applications and voice services.

What is the consultation process for Sky Muster Plus?

The process is now that the Sky Muster Plus product will go to industry consultation today (12/11/18), where feedback will be sort from industry stakeholders.  When feedback is received nbn will develop clarity around the Sky Muster Plus product and further detail will be released.

How was this developed?

BIRRR, along with other regional stakeholders have been discussing with nbn and the Federal Government ways to enhance the experience for nbn Sky Muster users, to cater for the growth in data needs.  nbn has been actively looking at ways to optimise Sky Muster, and have spent time reviewing the usage of Sky Muster users.  After reviewing the data and conducting extensive research,  nbn determined that there is a way to deliver extra capacity on the Sky Muster satellites and thus the new Sky Muster Plus product was developed.

If you are a BIRRR member who has participated in one of our Facebook Polls or surveys, then you have contributed to some of this research.

ICPA, AgForce & BIRRR Meet with nbn Local

How will Sky Muster Plus benefit me?

. However, this will vary depending on how each household or business uses the internet.

What happens when I run out of metered data on Sky Muster Plus?

If you exceed your monthly data allowance on Sky Muster Plus, you will not be shaped for unmetered content.  You will still be able to email, web browse and complete essential smart phone and PC updates.  You will be slowed for any metered content.

Will there be an Education Port on nbn Sky Muster Plus?

Education Ports will remain the same for now.

Will there be any changes to the peak and off peak times on nbn Sky Muster Plus?

Off peak times are not part of the Sky Muster Plus consultation process, however BIRRR will continue to advocate for changes to the off peak times on nbn Sky Muster.

How else will nbn Sky Muster be enhanced to keep up with the growth in data usage?

BIRRR will continue to collaborate with nbn and the Federal Government on further enhancements to the nbn Sky Muster platform.  BIRRR is looking forward to future nbn announcements such as business satellite services and health and education products.

Will Sky Muster Plus lead to congestion on the network?

No, Sky Muster Plus plans should not lead to network congestion as the product is designed for nbn to better manage capacity.

Developed for BIRRR by Kristy Sparrow, in conjunction with nbn Local 9/11/18

*Please note, while all care has been taken in compiling BIRRR documents, we recommend that you check with your service provider regarding your usage statistics, eligibility and best plans available.

 

Using PlayOn Desktop to Schedule Off Peak Video Downloads

What is PlayOn?

PlayOn Desktop is a program that allows you to schedule the download of movies and tv shows during Sky Muster ‘off peak’ data times. It is relatively cheap and very simple to use, you don’t have to be very tech savvy and its an excellent way to utilise your off-peak data that often goes unused.

What Do I Need?
You need an existing Netflix account or You Tube account to use PlayOn and a PC or laptop with Windows installed. Unfortunately PlayOn Desktop doesn’t work for Macs. 

BIRRR is currently researching the Play On Cloud app which works in a similar way on idevices, we will update when our research is done.

How Much Does it Cost?
PlayOn costs $4.99 USD per month or $30 USD annually or you can pay a one off lifetime membership charge of $69.95 USD. Prices do change regularly so check out current pricing on the Playon Website. Look into downloading a limited time trial, if you want to test the software without the commitment.

PlayOn charges are  an additional cost on top of your Netflix subscription. (Netflix AUS costs $9.99 per month for the basic package, which allows you to stream or download Netflix on 1 screen at a time in Standard Definition). Other plans are available, however it is not ideal to download from more than one device on Sky Muster. You may want to ‘trial’ Netflix for free for a limited time first.

How Does It Work? 

You can set your Play-On to record and download videos as .MP4 files during Sky Muster off-peak times.  PlayOn will start and end the recordings automatically. The recording works in a ‘streaming’ fashion. Meaning that if a movie is 3 hours long it will take 3 hours to record, and you can record up to 6 x 1 hour episodes of a TV series during your off-peak times. This means you can download up to 180 hours of movies and TV shows per month during your off peak time (subject to your data limits). This enables Netflix and You Tube to be more accessible to those on limited data connections.

PlayOn records during normal times too so if you find yourself at the end of your billing period with some leftover peak data and not enough time to use it up you can use PlayOn to record shows during peak times as well to use your data effectively.

How much data does it use?
You can easily adjust the quality of your recordings (similar to adjusting the streaming quality on your Netflix account), which will reduce the amount of data that is used per recording. However, I find anything less than Medium quality to be unwatchable and if you have a decent sized tv then you may want to stick to a High quality download setting.

Low Definition: reduced standard definition video quality, can use up to 300MB per hour.
Medium Definition: standard definition(SD) video quality, can use up to 700MB per hour.
High Definition: high definition(HD) video quality, can use up to 3GB per hour.

How to Watch?
Once you have downloaded your movies and TV shows there are multiple ways to watch them. You can use a streaming device (such as Chromecast) from your desktop, tablet or device. You can also put the files onto a USB or hard drive and plug that straight into your TV. If you have downloaded onto a laptop you can also use an HDMI to plug your computer directly into your TV.  Mirroring apps (try Googling one that is compatible with your TV and device) are also an easy way to watch.

Problems & Tech Support
PlayOn works really well the majority of the time. You can have issues where shows have not recorded properly or not at all (this can be from a minor Play-On glitch or a short Sky Muster outage or update). The program will flag the ones that failed to record overnight so you can add them to the queue to record next time.

PlayOn is a US based company so doesn’t offer phone based support in Australia, however there is a ‘tech support’ button in PlayOn settings which details problems and glitches and how to fix them.  PlayOn tech support can also be contacted via email.

How to Use?

  1. Create an account on the PlayOn website. (you will also need to have created a Netflix or YouTube account)
  2. Choose which payment option you want.
  3. Download the program to the computer you want to use (remember it is not compatible with Mac Computers)
  4. Follow the prompts as instructed.
  5. Once the PlayOn desktop program has downloaded go into settings and the ‘channels’ tab and enter your Netflix or YouTube logon and password details.
  6. In that same settings screen under the ‘General’ tab you can choose the quality of your download from HD to Low Quality as discussed above.
  7. Once this is set up you can go to the top right hand side of the screen and see an ‘off peak’ button. Click it to set up to record during off-peak times. You will need to enter your off-peak times in. PlayOn is very definite and only starts once the off-peak time has begun, it also won’t continue to record past the off-peak time you have set. e.g. If you have a 55 minute episode to record, but only 45 minutes of off-peak time remaining PlayOn will simply not record that episode (rather than record most of it or go over the specified time) and it will remain in the ‘Recording Queue’ until next time.
  8. Now the fun part. Click on the channels tab and choose the Netflix channel. Now you can choose whichever movies and tv shows you want to download. Once you have found what you want to record you will see the button on the far right of the show/episode description that says ‘record’. Click that and it will add it to your ‘Record Queue’ to be recorded during off-peak. You will have to click record for each episode of a series.
  9. Click on the ‘Record Queue’ button on the top right of the screen to see everything you have in your queue. You can change the record order etc from there if you want.
  10. Keep your computer turned on and connected to the internet overnight for the recordings to work (turn the volume down on the computer if you don’t want it annoying you through the night).
  11. You can see which recordings have downloaded successfully and which haven’t in the ‘new recordings’ and ‘failed recordings’ tabs on the left hand menu. Any ‘failed recordings’ you can just add to the ‘Record Queue’ again for next time and they will usually record successfully.  If you continue to get failed recordings or have other problems go to the ‘Help’ button at the bottom left of the screen.
  12. Sometimes when you open the PlayOn program you will get a screen that says ‘Server can’t be found’. Simply click the ‘Open Settings’ button and you will see a ‘Start/Stop Server’ button on the right of your settings. Click it and wait for the box to become green and say ‘Running’ and you are good to go. This happens often and is due to settings that don’t start the server automatically (to save data).

How to View
Refer to the How to Watch section above. You can open the PlayOn program to watch them, otherwise the recordings are also stored in a ‘Play-On’ folder in your Video files on your desktop. From that folder these can be transferred to a USB or hard-drive for viewing (and travel etc) if you want.

Check out Skymesh’s PlayOn hack article

Prepared for BIRRR by Sophie Parbury & Ben from SkyMesh.

*Please note, while all care has been taken in compiling BIRRR documents, we recommend that you check with your service provider regarding your eligibility and best plans available. Page updated 25/10/18.

QANTAS and SkyMuster

Qantas to sign trial satellite product with NBN for Wi-Fi
http://blog.jxeeno.com/qantas-sign-trial-satellite-product-nbn-wi-fi/
The company responsible for building the National Broadband Network, nbn, has released its test agreement with Qantas allowing them to test a “Proof-of-Concept Aeronautical Mobile Satellite Service” on a Qantas test aircraft. The proof-of-concept test is expected to help guide the development of nbn’s Satellite Mobility Product expected to launch in the third quarter of 2017.

As part of the trial, the network speed will be limited to 20 megabits per second for each aircraft on at most two aircrafts concurrently. The connection will also be limited to agreed flight corridors.

Trial of a Proof-of-Concept Aeronautical Mobile Satellite Service
http://www.nbnco.com.au/content/dam/nbnco2/documents/sfaa-test-description-POC-aeronautical_20170116.pdf.pdf
The purpose of the PoC Trial is to enable NBN Co and Test Participant to assess the functionality and performance of a proof-of-concept aeronautical mobile satellite service (the Mobility PoC Test Product) on Test Aircraft operated by Qantas Airways Limited (ABN 16 009 661 901)

Detailed analysis: How will Qantas’ on-board Wi-Fi impact NBN satellites?
http://blog.jxeeno.com/detailed-analysis-will-qantas-board-wi-fi-impact-nbn-satellites/
With under 350 flights spread out geographically and over a 24 hour period, I doubt the planes would have a material effect on congestion. Currently, the worst case scenario seems to be up 6-7 planes flying under a single beam at any given time. However, in the case of the 7-plane statistic, it happens only once in a 24 hour period. The speed at which planes travel also mean that they will typically fly in and out of narrow beams within 10-15 minutes, meaning any impact should be distributed across multiple beams as the plane flies through the airspace.

Diagram showing NBN Co satellite beams and risk of congestion as determined in the Fixed Wireless/Satellite Strategic Review (FWSat SR).

Diagram showing NBN Co satellite beams and risk of congestion as determined in the Fixed Wireless/Satellite Strategic Review (FWSat SR).

Environment and Communications Legislation Committee, 25/11/2016, Estimates. COMMUNICATIONS AND THE ARTS PORTFOLIO. NBN Co Limited
Senator URQUHART: I know that there have been some discussions around the use of the Sky Muster satellite data on Qantas aircraft. What percentage of the overall data will be allocated under that agreement that you have got with Qantas?

Mr Morrow : It is not an allocation of data that we would offer for aviation-based services. It is only the use of idle capacity when it is sitting there not being used at all. Our intent is that the priority services are for the ground-based homes and businesses that are targeted with satellite. If they are using all the capacity and a plane flies through that beam, the plane does not get any sort of internet connectivity. If, however, there is available and idle capacity, the plane can download or upload, depending.

qantas-trial

National Broadband Network Select Committee 15/03/2016 
Mr Morrow : We did change the second satellite to give it a considerable amount more of capacity than it had had before –  almost double the capacity. So we have repurposed the second satellite for additional capacity.
http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22committees%2Fcommsen%2Fac4de09f-67a1-48f3-9459-755617e08c24%2F0003%22

The death of in-flight entertainment? American Airlines scraps screens and tells fliers to bring their own.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/news/is-this-the-death-of-the-seat-back-entertainment-screen/
The world’s largest carrier said it decided to ditch seat-back monitors on its new Boeing 737 Max aircraft – intended for domestic routes in the US – because most passengers travel with mobile phones, laptops and tablets. Instead of investing in screens it will upgrade in-flight internet speed, to ensure passengers can browse the web and stream movies quickly.

Qantas’ In-Flight Wi-Fi Seems To Be Up To The Challenge
https://www.gizmodo.com.au/2017/02/qantas-in-flight-wi-fi-seems-to-be-up-to-the-challenge/
The service uses NBN’s Sky Muster satellites, and the carrier says it’ll be around 10 times faster than inflight Wi-Fi already in place on other domestic airlines around the globe like Delta in the US. The full fleet of 80 Qantas 737s and A330s will get in-flight Wi-Fi some time throughout 2018.

Qantas expects around 50 per cent of passengers to be using its inflight Wi-Fi and internet service during regular flights.

Every Major Airline’s Wifi Service, Explained and Ranked (in the USA)
http://gizmodo.com/every-major-airlines-wifi-service-explained-and-ranked-1701017977
Here are details from the 9 major US airlines that offer wifi. (This list is specific to domestic flights; if you’re flying internationally, the check-the-website rule applies even more fiercely because international fleets carry different gear than domestic fleets. If an airline has good in-flight wifi on domestic routes, though, they’re probably good for international routes as well.) Three things were taken into account when making this list: the likelihood that your plane would actually have wifi; the type of equipment powering the wifi; and its relative dependability, speed, and value.

LIST OF AIRLINES OFFERING INFLIGHT WIFI
http://www.edreams.com/blog/in-flight-wifi/

 

 

 

Problems with your NBN connection?

Until now, BIRRR has spent considerable time troubleshooting nbn issues – we now ask that these issues are directed to NBN or your provider. It doesn’t mean we don’t care, or can’t help if you continue having issues after you have tried these alternate contacts.

NBN now has a new ‘specialised regional support team’  inside the existing nbn contact centre which customers can call directly, dealing with a wide range of issues. BIRRR welcomes this improvement, as we have consistently called for this contact centre to be created. We also appreciate that NBN has acknowledged the work the BIRRR team has done up until now.

We are looking forward to spending more of our time advocating for RRR communication needs, rather than troubleshooting. BIRRR encourages providers to follow NBNs lead and establish their own specific RRR contact centres.


For ‘GETTING CONNECTED’ PROBLEMS

  • Not sure what type of NBN connection you can get? Visit here and type in your address (you may have to drag the marker over your house).
  • If you are ‘on the fringe’ of a footprint(eg just outside a Fixed Wireless area and are seeking to get fixed wireless) then you can contact NBN and ask to be reclassified. You will need to provide them with your address and GPS coordinates (Find your GPS via Google Maps here)
  • Your address is not there? You can contact NBN and ask to be reclassified. NBN’s engineers will then evaluate your situation and potentially change your designated nbn technology to fixed wireless. You will need to provide them with your address and GPS coordinates (Find your GPS via Google Maps here)

CONTACT NBN at 1800 OUR NBN (1800 687 626) or send an email to info@nbnco.com.au

 NB: the nbn co call centre will not be able to help with tower/nbn activation dates, nor will the BIRRR team. The ‘nbn co check your address’ site has a date of service available.

For INSTALLATION PROBLEMS:

  • Cancelled/Postponed installations?  Contact NBN and report your problem! NBN have set up new procedures and are trying to be more helpful.
  • Installer fails an install?If you feel that they could have tried harder (different locations on your property, tried a 3m mast etc)  Contact NBN.
  • Equipment is installed, but not working.  Try the power cycle routine (see here). Try the different ports on your NBN box, power cycle in between swaps. If still not working contact your service provider (RSP). Make sure you get a ticket number.

 For CONNECTION PROBLEMS:

  1. If you don’t have a working connection, please try a power cycle routine once with a computer plugged directly into the NBN modem. See here to see how to do a power cycle correctly (the article is about SkyMuster, but the principle is the same). If you have a SkyMuster connection check here for further details.
  2. If you are still offline check the service status pages offered by SkyMesh who lists unplanned outages here, and Iinet  who list scheduled maintenance events here, to make sure your problem is not a widespread problem. Activ8me Facebook page and the ANT Facebook page also list outages when they know about them.
  3. You can also ring the NBN hotline for SkyMuster outages. They will tell if a beam is down, an earth station (many beams) is down or the outage is national
  4. If you are offline and it is not a widespread problem, please contact your RSP (service provider), make sure you get a ticket number. Send an email (if you can) to your RSP support about the problem, so they know it exists, especially if the callback queues are long (if the queues are long, it means that many customers have a problem).
  5. Contact your service provider (RSP) when you have problems with your speed, dropouts, excessive data usage.

nbn-call-centre

If you have tried the options above and you still need help either post in the BIRRR Facebook group or  send an email to birrraus@gmail.com


nbn co recently announced:

  • call centre policy and protocols have changed so that satellite end users will not be referred immediately to their RSP.
  • nbn’s call centre will now be able to provide basic network outage information so that callers will at the very least know if the network is down in their area.
  • set up ‘a dedicated regional support team inside this call centre to handle rural addressing issues, location I.D generation, non-standard fixed wireless installs, or other issues that people living in regional, rural and remote areas experience’.
  • nbn will also incorporate this approach into its official Facebook page, nbn Australia.

Announcement from NBN about their SkyMuster issues (Nov 2016):

‘By now you have no doubt heard about Sky Muster, nbn’s $1.8 billion custom-built broadband satellite delivering fast internet to the bush. While nbn has heard many stories of people having a great Sky Muster experience, we have also heard your concerns. These concerns are something nbn takes very seriously and the company wants to directly address them here. 

nbn is currently implementing a satellite service improvement programme, which is being led by a committed task force to address and resolve the issues identified. Some of the corrective action already undertaken includes software fixes to reduce connection times and configuration updates to improve the stability of the service. This work is ongoing and has seen a substantial improvement in network stability.

nbn has implemented changes to our call centre and social media processes which means we are now providing network information directly to end users as it becomes available. We have also set up a dedicated regional support team in our call centre to handle regional-specific queries. In addition, nbn is working with our retail providers and delivery partners to help improve the installation process and ensure the number of rescheduled and missed appointments is minimised.

The Sky Muster technology is breaking new ground and as with any new technology, particularly one as complex as satellite broadband, there are issues early in the roll-out that need to be worked through.

nbn acknowledges that we need to get this right as soon as possible and we are working hard to do just this as we ramp up to connect more than 10,000 premises a month to Sky Muster.’  (source: nbn co )

SkyMuster not working?

  1. If you don’t have a working SkyMuster connection, please try a power cycle routine once with a computer plugged directly into the NBN modem (wait at least 30 minutes before going to the next step). See here to see how to do a power cycle correctly.
  2. If you are still offline please contact your service provider. Send an email (if you can) to your support about the problem, so they know it exists.  If you have to call it may involve a long wait if there are many problems. Keep records of who you have phoned/emailed, dates and ticket/fault numbers
  3. Contact nbn – 1800 OUR NBN or via their FaceBook page or email: info@nbn.com.au to see if there are any widespread outages.  The RSPs that have network status information are
    1. SkyMesh also have a network status page that is usually up to date at https://www.skymesh.net.au/advisories/
    2.  Active8me post network outages on their FaceBook page here (like their page and the updates will appear in your newsfeed) and on their network status page here.
    3. Iinet posts all the planned maintenance events here https://www.iinet.net.au/status/
    4. Clear Networks here
    5. Westnet here
  4.  After you have completed steps 1,2 and 3 above and Sky Muster still not working (as in NO connection, complete outage or not activated on install), Fill in this form (please follow instructions on the form first), fill in for your neighbour or friend or family member if they have no connection.
  5. Also, post to the BIRRR FaceBook group and state where you are located (nearest town), who your service provider is and how long you have been out for, just in case others in your area are also affected.

21931195_176029549631441_828593649_o (1)Thanks to SkyMesh for providing this printable power cycle document. Please note SkyMesh are one of 12 providers offering nbn Sky Muster.  You should always contact your provider for assistance.

*Please note, while all care has been taken in compiling BIRRR documents, we recommend that you check with your service provider regarding your own connection issues. Updated 29/8/18

Contact a Politician

Here is basic letter to get you started! (Click here to open it)  – Please make sure you replace the RED wording with your own relevant details.

Details for the relevant MPs to contact on matters of NBN and internet problems:

Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield
Manager of Government Business in the Senate
Minister for Communications
Minister for the Arts
Liberal Party of Australia
https://www.aph.gov.au/Senators_and_Members/Contact_Senator_or_Member?MPID=D2I
https://www.facebook.com/SenatorFifield
https://twitter.com/SenatorFifield

Contact details for all MPs  here

Web Page Optimisation (WPO)

nbn SkyMuster uses a system called Web Page Optimisation (WPO).
Web Page Optimisation is designed to help speed the loading of pages, as you browse.
A downside of WPO is that nbn counts all the data that WPO pre-fetches, including data collected to speed up your page loads even if you never see them.
Some providers (if asked) will disable (turn off) WPO.
You may experience some pages loading a little slower, but for many there is little change in speed.
Disabling WPO will stop the addition of the WPO overhead to your account.
The amount of additional data that WPO uses will vary with the the day to day internet activity of your household.
For those on SkyMuster who are struggling to keep within their account quota, disabling WPO may be something to consider.

*Please note, while all care has been taken in compiling BIRRR documents, we recommend that you check with NBN or your ISP regarding your own connection issues.

Kindly prepared for BIRRR by John Kitchener 21/7/2016