NBN Co creates new basic Sky Muster Plus tier for low-income internet offer

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NBN Co creates new basic Sky Muster Plus tier for low-income internet offer

Comes with 80 percent less metered data quota.

NBN Co will put currently unconnected low-income families in its satellite footprint on a Sky Muster Plus service but with a much smaller metered data allowance than normal.

The network builder revealed a $150 million relief package on Friday last week that includes provisions for getting unconnected low-income households with school-aged children temporarily online.

Within the fixed-line footprint, that means unconnected households will receive free, high or unlimited quota 25/5Mbps services through until the end of September, the first participating retailers indicated over the weekend.

Those in the NBN Co’s satellite footprint will be offered Sky Muster Plus services, but with a metered data quota one-fifth of the normal basic allowance.

The current entry-level plan on Sky Muster Plus has 50GB of metered data split between peak and off-peak, in addition to the unmetering of many traffic types and applications, for $35 a month wholesale.

But NBN Co said in technical documentation late Friday [pdf] that it will create a new product with 10GB of metered data with a "wholesale value" of $34 a month, for unconnected, low-income families receiving its COVID-19 offer. 

NBN Co is waiving the monthly wholesale charge and encouraging retail providers to absorb costs on their end, making the entire internet service free.

Most internet traffic on Sky Muster Plus is unmetered, accounting for upwards of 70 percent of normal household internet usage. Video platforms used for education - such as Zoom - are believed to be exempt.

The only exceptions are VPN traffic and video streaming for entertainment purposes; usage of these is counted towards a plan's metered allowance.

It appears that as these types of uses fall outside the stated aims of the COVID-19 offer - which is being laid on for educational purposes - their usage will also be limited.

iTnews asked NBN Co the purpose of establishing a new tier in Sky Muster Plus that costs $1 less wholesale than the current basic tier, but has one-fifth of the metered data allowance.

“We created this satellite product to specifically meet the education needs of unconnected school children,” an NBN Co spokesperson said in response.

NBN Co said that the specific “COVID-19 online learning support plan” - as it is being called - on Sky Muster Plus will expire September 30, at which point any customers that wished to stay connected - and paid to do so - would be moved up to the plan with the 50GB metered allowance.

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