Resellers of the National Broadband Network’s (NBN) Sky Muster satellite service are set to get a substantial boost to the wholesale data limits they can sell to end customers.
The company behind the NBN rollout, nbn, revealed on 27 June that it will deliver new wholesale plans on the Sky Muster satellite service to more than 240,000 homes and businesses in regional and rural Australia.
The proposed changes will increase maximum usage during a peak period from up to 75GB per month to up to 150GB per month, and double the maximum total data usage from 150GB per month to 300GB per month.
The company said it will double the maximum monthly wholesale data limits that RSPs can offer to end users and increase average peak downloads plans by up to 50 per cent on the satellite service, from 30GB to 45GB per month.
The new limits will apply to RSPs from October, 2017.
According to a joint release by the Minister for Communications, Mitch Fifield, and Minister for Regional Communications, Fiona Nash, nbn will provide the extra data at no extra cost to network retailers, although how those resellers structure their plans will be up to them.
"For the first time, we expect customers to be able to purchase plans of more than 100 gigabytes a month of peak data,” Nash said.
According to nbn, since the launch of the Sky Muster service in April 2016, its technicians have been working to improve the satellite network’s overall performance and testing the total capacity it can provide.
This period allowed the company to monitor and research the delivery of the service in real-world conditions and identify efficiencies which have resulted in an increase to total capacity available on the service, the company said.
“Late last year we made the decision to re-purpose our second satellite, previously slated as a dormant backup service to actively share the load in delivering more data to customers on the Sky Muster service,” nbn CEO, Bill Morrow, said.
“After spending the last year reviewing and testing the capabilities of the service, we are now comfortable that we have the capacity to offer increased data packages to retailers,” he said.
According to Morrow, the company will continue to optimise the pricing model and data plans of the Sky Muster service with further offerings on business and education services that are expected to be available in the next 12-18 months.
Just how much of the wholesale discount will end up being passed on to end customers by resellers of the satellite service remains to be seen.
Regardless, some advocates have welcomed the news, including consumer group, Better Internet for Rural, Regional and Remote (BIRRR) Australia, which said that the move was a “positive step”.
However, BIRRR founder Kristy Sparrow also asked RSPs to get on board with the changes, and pass them on to end customers.
“We urge the RSPs to work with nbn and their customers to ensure that the new higher data plans are affordable and meet the individual needs of regional consumers,” she said.