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Starlink busted by ACMA for telco code breach

Australia’s media regulator has issued Starlink with a very public slap on the wrist, calling out the satellite internet service for failing to comply with Aussie telco industry guidelines.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has ordered Starlink to comply with advertising rules outlined in the Telecommunications Consumer Protections (TCP) Code, after determining that the company didn’t disclose an end date for its recent limited-time discounted hardware offer.

Starlink — which is owned and operated by Elon Musk’s SpaceX — recently ended the special promotion in question, which gave new customers in rural areas a significantly lower sign-up cost. Although Starlink advertised the deal as a “limited time offer”, there was initially no end date for the discount provided to prospective customers, which is a direct breach of the TCP Code.

ACMA warning: Comply or pay $250,000

According to the Code, internet providers must disclose key terms for special offers — including whether stocks are limited, if there’s eligibility requirements, and if there’s a set end date. The ACMA opened an investigation into Starlink’s promotion in June of this year, and the company eventually added an end date to its advertising on July 26.

The special offer available to select rural customers included a huge 78% discount on the cost of Starlink’s hardware, which is normally priced from $924. As part of the deal, qualifying regional customers would pay just $199 for their satellite setup, with the price also reduced to $599 across the rest of Australia.

Screenshot of Starlink website offer
Image: ACMA

According to submissions made to the ACMA, Starlink was waiting to see how well-received its discount offer was before setting an end date. Starlink argued that if an end date wasn’t actually determined, there was no way for it to be disclosed to customers; therefore, the company shouldn’t be held in breach of the TCP Code.

Unfortunately for Starlink, the ACMA doesn’t agree. While Starlink hasn’t been penalised for the error, the provider has been ordered to comply with the Code going forward — and failure to follow the ACMA’s directions could result in fines of up to $250,000.

Starlink is one of several big-name telcos and service providers to be hit with ACMA warnings in 2023. Telstra, Optus, and TPG have all come under fire for various TCP Code breaches, including breaking financial hardship rules and failing to provide essential information to emergency databases.


Read more: Starlink Internet in Australia: Speed, Price and Plans


Is Starlink any good?

Launched in 2021, Starlink is a satellite internet provider that offers fast, low-latency broadband plans to customers across Australia. The service uses low-orbit satellites to connect homes and businesses, and has grown into a reliable, but expensive, NBN alternative in areas where fixed-line internet isn’t available.

Starlink offers one unlimited data broadband plan, which comes with a $139 per month plan price. New sign-ups will also have to pay an upfront hardware fee, although Starlink is currently offering half-price refurbished setup kits “while supplies last”.

Despite being relatively new to the Australian telco space, Starlink has recently inked massive deals with the nation’s two biggest phone and internet providers. Telstra will soon offer Starlink-based broadband and voice plans to customers in rural areas, while Optus will use Starlink’s satellites to expand its own mobile coverage in under-served locations.

If you’re unhappy with your current NBN plan, but the cost of Starlink is still a little too high, you may want to consider 5G home internet. If you’re got 5G coverage in your area, a wireless broadband connection can offer fast speeds and no hassle — you can see what’s on offer in the tables below.

The following table shows selected published 5G home internet plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest.

Brand Features Max Data**/billing period Advertised Cost^^/billing period
Telstra Logo

5G Home Internet

  • 5G speeds
  • Speeds capped at 25Mbps after 1TB allowance exceeded
  • Includes Telstra 5G Home Modem ($0 when you stay connected for 24 months)
  • Special offer: first month free for new customers. Terms apply.

min. cost $85 over one month

1TBMax Data**/billing period $85Advertised Cost^^/billing period
Optus Logo

Optus Plus Entertainer Superfast 5G

  • No speed cap
  • 50Mbps satisfaction guarantee
  • Includes the Optus supplied Nokia FastMile 5G Gateway Modem ($576 modem cost)
  • Stay connected for 36 months and pay $0 for the modem
  • Includes standard Netflix subscription via SubHub
  • Special offer: $0 Start-up fee + 1 Month free
  • Intro offer: $89/mth for first 6 mths, then $99/mth T&Cs Apply

min. cost $675 over first month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $99Advertised Cost^^/billing period Link to provider unavailable
View all NBN plans listed on Canstar Blue

The following table shows selected published 5G home internet plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest.

Brand Features Max Data**/billing period Advertised Cost^^/billing period
TPG Logo

5G Home Broadband Plus

  • Up to 50Mbps speeds
  • $0 setup fee with no lock-in contract
  • $0 modem when you stay connected for 36 months
  • Special offer: First month plan fees free. Terms apply.

min. cost $59.99 over one month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $59.99Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go to Site
iiNet Logo

Home Broadband Plus

  • Up to 50Mbps speeds
  • $0 set up fees and no lock-in contract
  • $0 5G modem
  • Special offer: one month plan fees free. Terms apply.

min. cost $59.99 over one month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $59.99Advertised Data^^/billing period Go to Site
Internode

Home Broadband Plus

  • Up to 50Mbps speeds
  • $0 set up fees and no lock-in contract
  • $0 5G modem
  • Special offer: one month plan fees free. Terms apply.

min. cost $59.99 over one month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $59.99Advertised Cost^^/billing period
Vodafone Logo

Ultimate 5G Home Broadband Plus

  • $60 per month for existing Vodafone customers
  • Up to 50Mbps speeds
  • $0 setup fee with no lock-in contract
  • $0 modem when you stay connected for 36 months
  • Special offer: First month plan fees free. Terms apply.

min. cost $65 over one month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $65Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go to Site
TPG Logo

5G Home Broadband Premium

  • Up to 100Mbps speeds
  • $0 setup fee with no lock-in contract
  • $0 modem when you stay connected for 36 months
  • Special offer: First month plan fees free. Terms apply.

min. cost $64.99 over one month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $64.99Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go to Site
iiNet Logo

Home Broadband Premium

  • Up to 100Mbps speeds
  • $0 set up fees and no lock-in contract
  • $0 5G modem
  • Special offer: one month plan fees free. Terms apply.

min. cost $69.99 over one month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $69.99Advertised Data^^/billing period Go to Site
Internode

Home Broadband Premium

  • Up to 100Mbps speeds
  • $0 set up fees and no lock-in contract
  • $0 5G modem
  • Special offer: one month plan fees free. Terms apply.

min. cost $69.99 over one month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $69.99Advertised Cost^^/billing period
Vodafone Logo

Premium 5G Home Broadband

  • $65 per month for existing Vodafone customers
  • Up to 100Mbps speeds
  • $0 setup fee with no lock-in contract
  • $0 modem when you stay connected for 36 months
  • Special offer: First month plan fees free. Terms apply.

min. cost $70 over one month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $70Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go to Site
Optus Logo

Optus Plus Everyday Fast 5G

  • Speed capped at 100Mbps
  • 50Mbps satisfaction guarantee
  • Includes the Optus supplied Nokia FastMile 5G Gateway Modem ($576 modem cost)
  • Stay connected for 36 months and pay $0 for the modem
  • Special offer: $0 Start-up fee + 1 Month free

min. cost $655 over first month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $79Advertised Cost^^/billing period Link to provider unavailable
Spintel Logo

SpinTel 5G Unlimited

  • Up to 250Mbps speeds
  • Nokia 5G modem available

min. cost $89 over one month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $89Advertised Cost^^/billing period
View all NBN plans listed on Canstar Blue

For customers in remote areas with no access to fibre internet, NBN’s SkyMuster satellite plans have recently been given a high-speed, unlimited data makeover. NBN Co introduced its Sky Muster Plus Premium plans earlier this year, which include unlimited and unmetered data, along with potential burst speeds of up to 100Mbps. Over 21,000 households have signed up to the new, faster plans since June.

You can compare prices and plans from a range of NBN Sky Muster providers below.

The following table shows selected published NBN Satellite plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our comparison tool to see fixed-line plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.

Brand Features Max Data**/billing period Advertised Cost^^/billing period
Activ8me Logo

Sky Muster 235GB Sonic

  • Standard Speed (NBN 25)
  • 90GB peak / 145GB off peak

min. cost $64.95 over one month

200GBMax Data**/billing period $64.95Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
iiNet Logo

Sky Muster Standard Plan

  • Standard Speed (NBN 25)
  • 60GB peak / 190GB off peak

min. cost $64.99 over one month

250GBMax Data**/billing period $64.99Advertised Data^^/billing period
Skymesh Logo

Sky Muster Plus

  • Standard Speed (NBN 25/5)
  • 512/256Kbps max download and upload speed during peak hours
  • 2048/512Kbps max download and upload speed during off-peak hours
  • Data limited to 50GB per month for video streaming and VPN use

min. cost $69.95 for first month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $69.95Advertised Data^^/billing period
iiNet Logo

Sky Muster Plus Premium

  • Standard Speed (NBN 25)
  • Burst speeds of up to 100Mbps
  • Unmetered data

min. cost $99.00 over one month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $99.00Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Southern Phone Logo

Satellite Medium

  • Standard Speed (NBN 25)
  • 100GB data for video streaming and VPN use between 4pm – midnight
  • Unlimited data for all activities except video streaming and VPN use between 4pm – midnight

min. cost $130 for one month billing period

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $130Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
View all NBN plans listed on Canstar Blue
Tara Donnelly
Utilities Editor
Tara Donnelly is an internet and mobile expert - sectors she’s spent a decade covering - and also oversees energy and consumer technology content. She holds a Bachelor of Communications from the University of Canberra and has shared her expertise on national media including 9 News, 7 News, Sunrise and the ABC.

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