NBN Co has increased data allowances for Sky Muster services for regional and remote customers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Starting from 31 March, the National Broadband Network (NBN) wholesaler will increase the download data limits that apply for retail service providers (RSPs) for each standard NBN Sky Muster service, providing an additional 45GB at no additional cost to RSPs.
This will be in effect for three months and allows RSPs, in some cases, to effectively double the average monthly download limits on retail plans offered to many of their customers, NBN Co said.
For an RSP’s standard NBN Sky Muster services, NBN Co is increasing average wholesale download limits to 90GB of data on average depending on the services that the RSP has ordered from NBN Co.
As of 1 April, on an ongoing basis, customers on Sky Muster Plus plans will see an expansion of unmetered content.
Once these enhancements take effect, all traffic on NBN Sky Muster Plus plans will be unmetered, except for video streaming and traffic via a VPN, both of which will continue to be metered.
Unmetered activities currently include web browsing, email and operating system updates. However, as part of these further enhancements, social media applications such as Skype and Facetime will also be unmetered.
Additionally, Sky Muster Plus plans will now include a new 25GB entry plan, providing 25GB of peak data, and 25GB of off-peak data for VPN traffic and video streaming.
RSPs will also be granted greater flexibility to customise data allowances on their retail plans in 5GB increments (starting from 25GB of peak and off-peak data up to 150GB), as well as being able to offer customers a ‘top-up’ data feature as customers use their monthly metered allowance.
NBN Co chief development officer rural and regional Gavin William said it will continue to closely monitor data usage together with internet retailers, and will seek to implement any additional measures required where available including monitoring of the peak times.
“We want to reassure regional and remote communities across Australia that you are a priority for [NBN Co],” William said.
“Over the coming days and weeks, we are expecting a higher number of people in regional and remote communities across Australia to work from home and more children to be remotely school.
Better Internet for Rural, Regional and Remote Australia (BIRR) founder Kristy Sparrow said encouraged retailers to pass the data allowance on in full to their customers.
“BIRRR urges all users to review their current plan and ensure that it meets their needs at this time, both for data, speed and customer service,” she said.
Minister for Communications and Cyber Safety Paul Fletcher welcomed NBN Co’s commitment to rural and regional customers, pointing out that under the new Sky Muster Plus offering, approximately 70 per cent of all data use is expected to be unmetered compared to about 30 per cent under the current plans.
“The extra data that NBN Co is making available over the Sky Muster satellites – both permanent enhancements adding greater flexibility on Sky Muster Plus and the short term data boost on standard Sky Muster plans – will offer relief to regional and remote communities as their internet needs change over the coming weeks,” Fletcher said.
The move comes after NBN Co moved to waive charges for additional capacity of up to 40 per cent to network RSPs for at least three months in a move aimed at helping resellers cope with an anticipated surge in demand amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The additional capacity pricing relief, which will kick off from 23 March, will apply to all fixed line, fixed wireless and satellite NBN technologies.