Interim NBN satellite users urged to migrate as switch-off looms

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Interim NBN satellite users urged to migrate as switch-off looms

But Sky Muster still not performing.

Consumers still on NBN Co's interim satellite service are being urged to move over to the Sky Muster long-term satellite before they are disconnected on February 28.

NBN Co has been working steadily to shift people off the interim service in the lead-up to the switch-off date. As at December 31 last year there were 10,000 consumers remaining on the service.

The stragglers will be shifted across to the Sky Muster satellites. Interim satellite service users that live within the fixed wireless footprint could have requested to move to that service instead of the Sky Muster long-term satellites if they'd made the request prior to December last year.

NBN Co decided to move 40,000 premises out of its satellite footprint and onto fixed services in late 2015 to free up capacity.

Regional communications minister Fiona Nash today said customers migrating across would not be charged for the installation of satellite equipment, nor for the cost of switching to fixed wireless or fibre-to-the-node down the track if the user has been designated either connection by NBN Co.

Users can determine whether they are on the interim satellite service by ascertaining whether they were connected to an NBN satellite service between July 2011 and December 2013.

NBN long-term satellite services have been available to end users since April 2016 following the launch of the network builder's first Sky Muster satellite in October 2015. Its second satellite, Sky Muster II, set off into space last October.

Ongoing problems with Sky Muster

Technical issues with the new Sky Muster satellite service may have had some impact on NBN Co's efforts to convince users to move across.

The launch of the second satellite late last year was marred by a botched software update to the Viasat modems that help power the service, leaving users unable to connect for long periods of time.

Additional ongoing issues related to weather and distance have caused flaky internet access for Sky Muster customers.

NBN Co chief customer officer John Simon last week conceded the Sky Muster satellites had not met anyone's expectations so far.

"The implementation of these custom designed satellites has not been without its challenges and some of you may have experienced this first hand," Simon said in a recent op-ed.

"Of course, with any complex new technology there will always be implementation issues, and I apologise for the time it is taking to fix them.

"We are working day and night to improve the Sky Muster service."

Simon said the network builder had increased the number of installers on the ground to speed up installations, and completed major software upgrades to improve stability.

"The early results from these changes are encouraging and show better network stability and a significant lift in connection performance. We believe we are well and truly heading in the right direction but there’s still more work to be done," he said.

"All of us at NBN are intent on putting the technical solutions in place to get Sky Muster performing to its full potential and we ask for your understanding as we implement our further fixes."

 Around 54,000 end users nationally are active on the Sky Muster satellite service.

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