With Australia’s NBN rollout now mostly completed, there remains a lot of confusion around just what the NBN is, and what certain parts of the NBN do. One of the big things that people are left confused by is NBN satellite – that is internet serviced through a satellite, rather than a fixed line like most NBN connections.
In this article, we’ll be discussing all of your questions about NBN satellite, and covering some key NBN satellite plans and providers.
What is NBN satellite?
NBN satellite is when the NBN connection is transmitted to your home through the Sky Muster satellite. This requires your home to be fitted with a satellite dish. The NBN satellite services upwards of 200,000 properties in Australia, delivering download speeds of up to 25Mbps. It’s designed for regional and remote use, and is typically referred to as ‘Sky Muster’.
NBN satellite is the slowest type of NBN in the country. That being said, it’ll still provide more consistent speeds than mobile broadband and home wireless broadband (which may not even be serviceable in an area using NBN satellite).
There are two NBN satellites in operation, with 10 ground stations.
- These ground stations then feature two 13.5m satellite dishes.
- The stations are located strategically to cover mainland Australia, Tasmania and other particular locations: Norfolk Island, Christmas Island, Lord Howe Island and the Cocos Islands.
- Satellite NBN yields up to 25Mbps download speeds, and 5Mbps uploads – the equivalent of NBN Tier 2 for fixed-line connections.
Satellite NBN providers
Sky Muster officially launched in February 2017, but unfortunately not many providers have taken up the option to offer services through this connection type. Below are some options for Sky Muster; note that the price you pay per gigabyte is often much higher than other forms of NBN. Unlimited data is also not often available, with data limits maxing out at about 300GB, split between peak and off-peak times.
The following table shows selected published Satellite NBN 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 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|
min. cost $44.95 over one month
|175GB||$44.95||Go To Site|
Sky Muster Standard Plan
min. cost $64.99 over one month
Sky Muster Plus
min. cost $69.95 for first month
min. cost $130 for one month billing period
|200GB||$130||Go To Site|
min. cost $3,240 over 24 month billing period
|View all NBN plans listed on Canstar Blue||**^^View important information|
Three providers stand out as offering some tech-forward satellite plans: iiNet, Activ8me and Harbour ISP.
As you can see, prices are currently quite expensive for the amount of data you get. However, for those in remote locations, having a stable connection is better than nothing. Also keep an eye out for NBN specialists such as SkyMesh and Southern Phone.
When you are connected, you’ll need to keep in mind your likely usage and the potential for this to rise over time, as plans are data-limited. With the advent of new and more data-demanding media services, the likelihood of a larger plan in the future may make it necessary to ‘future-proof’ your broadband connection.
What’s good about NBN satellite?
Satellite NBN is good for reaching parts of Australia other types of NBN can’t – even wireless NBN can’t reach outback Australia where 4G signals aren’t available. Satellite NBN is also much faster than many of its alternatives in remote areas, such as ADSL, mobile broadband and home wireless broadband – that being said, it is still slow compared to other NBN connections.
That leads to the main problem of satellite NBN. It’s slow – at least compared to what you would be getting on other NBN types. Unfortunately, an internet connection transmitted from the Sky Muster satellite can’t reach anywhere near the top speeds of fixed-line connections.
It’s not all doom and gloom though! For Australians in rural areas, Sky Muster provides essential connections: and with Starlink on its way to Australia, it’s likely to not be the only option forever.
How do I connect to NBN satellite?
To get NBN satellite, simply get in touch with an internet service provider (ISP) of your choice, such as those mentioned in the table earlier in this article.
After organising your plan, a technician will be prepared to visit your property and set up a Sky Muster ready NBN satellite dish at your home, along with the NBN supplied modem. This shouldn’t take too long, but you should ask your ISP for details.
Once this is done, you should be ready to connect to the internet through the NBN satellite service – all you’ll need to do is set your router up in the home (you’ll need to make sure your modem is NBN ready). NBN equipment should be installed:
- Within 1.5 metres of an electrical outlet
- In an office or study, or near any existing phone sockets
- A cool, dry and ventilated area with no sinks or water outlets
- Away from busy areas where it may be knocked or damaged
- A place where the equipment can be easily reached
- A place where you’re not planning any major renovations
Is NBN satellite good value for money?
For what you get, NBN satellite offers the best option to a lot of Australian homes, but if you can get an alternative like Starlink or home wireless broadband, it’s worth considering your options. NBN satellite plans offer some pretty tough data restrictions, and the download speeds leave something to be desired.