What is NBN Satellite Internet?

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 – a relatively niche service that provides an internet connection through a satellite rather than a fixed line like most NBN connections.

If you’re wondering what NBN satellite is, how it works, who provides the service and if it’s actually worth getting at all, find out all you need to know about NBN satellite plans in this Canstar Blue guide.

What is NBN satellite?

Sky Muster satellite diagram, source: NBNco
Credit: NBNco

NBN satellite is when the NBN connection is transmitted to your home through a satellite, rather than the traditional fibre connection type. It requires your home to fitted with a satellite dish, and connects to a Sky Muster satellite, and is primarily designed to be used for regional and remote use due to its coverage and speed.

There are currently two NBN satellites covering Australia, with 10 ground stations assisting with coverage.

  • These ground stations 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 25 Plan.

How does Satellite NBN work?

Like any other satellite technology, Satellite NBN works by your satellite dish sending and receiving signals to a satellite operating in space, with the data transferred between the satellite and your dish deciphered by the NBN connection box and your modem, allowing you to connect and view pages on the internet.

How do I connect to NBN satellite?

Connecting to NBN satellite is the same as connecting with any other NBN plan. Firstly, call up your NBN provider and ask if they offer an NBN satellite plan, and then decide on which plan you’d like if they offer the service. From there, a technician will come to your property to install the satellite dish and set up the connection points, as well as configure the modem. How long this takes will be dependent on your plan, provider and how remote your property is, but if you’re looking for a particular timeframe, it’s worth talking to your provider about it.

Satellite NBN providers

There are currently only a few Satellite NBN providers available in Australia, including iiNet, activ8me, SkyMesh, Southern Phone and Harbour ISP. All operate on the Sky Muster system, which was launched in 2017, and is operated by the NBN Co.

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
iiNet Logo

Sky Muster 175GB Sonic

  • Standard Evening Speed (NBN 25)
  • 45GB peak / 130GB off peak

min. cost $44.95 over one month

175GBMax Data**/billing period $44.95Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
iiNet Logo

Sky Muster Standard Plan

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

min. cost $64.99 over one month

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

Sky Muster Plus

  • Standard (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
Southern Phone Logo

Satellite Medium

  • Standard (NBN 25)
  • 100GB peak / 100GB off peak

min. cost $130 for one month billing period

200GBMax Data**/billing period $130Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Harbour ISP Logo

Rocket 25/5

  • Standard (NBN 25)
  • 150GB peak / 150GB off peak
  • $15 one-off cost

min. cost $3,240 over 24 month billing period

300GBMax Data**/billing period $135Advertised Data^^/billing period
View all NBN plans listed on Canstar Blue

Are there unlimited NBN Satellite plans?

There are currently no unlimited Satellite NBN plans available, with most plans having a capped service, meaning you’ll have to pay additional charges if you go over your allocated data limits.

How much do NBN satellite plans cost?

Satellite NBN plans can cost anywhere between $40 and up to $200 per month, depending on the provider and the plan you sign up to. The demand for the service, as well as the limited number of providers, are big factors as to why NBN satellite plans can be so expensive for what they provide, in addition to looking after a few satellites to power the whole operation.

Pros and Cons of NBN satellite

Like anything to do with internet type, there’s always a few pros and cons. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of NBN satellite.

Advantages of NBN Satellite

Here are the advantages of NBN Satellite:

  • Coverage: The primary advantage, 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, meaning those properly out in the sticks can have a more stable internet connection.
  • Connection Stability: Satellite NBN is also more stable than mobile broadband in remote areas of Australia. While you may still experience drop outs, you may experience less interruptions and a more consistent signal strength with Satellite NBN.

Disadvantages of NBN Satellite

Here are the disadvantages of NBN Satellite:

  • Speed: Due to the sheer distance and size Satellite NBN covers, it doesn’t offer the fastest speeds to users, generally offering a download speed of 25Mbps.
  • Limited Providers: As an option that’s generally only suited to a select number of Australians, it’s no surprise there’s only a few providers offering Satellite NBN. As a result, the market may not be as competitive as other NBN markets, with less incentives to switch between providers as well.
  • Cost: Considering that you don’t get much speed or data amounts, NBN Satellite plans are some of the more expensive options on the market.

Can NBN satellite be affected by the weather?

Yes, bad weather like hail or a thunderstorm can block your signal with the Sky Muster website. Unfortunately there isn’t much you can do about this, meaning you’ll often just have to wait until the storm has passed.

Can I keep my home phone connection on an NBN satellite plan?

You can keep your copper wire telephone connection on an NBN satellite plan, or sign up for a VoIP phone line through your NBN provider. Usually an NBN connection will result in the eventual termination of your copper line, but that’s not the case with NBN satellite plans.

Is NBN satellite good value for money?

For what you get, NBN satellite offers the best option for remote Australian homes, although in comparison to NBN deals in the big smoke, it’s a tough pill to swallow. However, as it’s often considered as the more stable option, and it’s the only thing between you and having no internet connection at all, an NBN satellite connection isn’t such a bad thing after all.

One potential ray of light is that the internet connections in Australia are (generally) heading in the right direction, with the increased rollout of 5G connections potentially having a roll-on effect to other connection types, including NBN satellite plans, meaning that, hopefully, connection speeds, deals and signal strength all improve down the line.

Photo Credit: Laszlo66/shutterstock.com

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