NBN Co will relax data usage limits on its Sky Muster satellite service from October, paving the way for monthly quotas of up to 300GB.
The wholesaler will make good on plans flagged last month to raise the data allowances afforded to retail service providers (RSPs), at least some of which will flow through to end users.
Currently, RSPs must limit their average peak data usage per customer to 30GB a month.
The 30GB download is an average across all of the RSP’s Sky Muster customers. Within that, it is possible for some customers to use more or less, as long as the RSP as a whole stays under quota.
For individuals and businesses that use more data, they are presently limited to 75GB in peak times and 150GB in total (peak and off-peak) per month.
Under the changes announced today, average peak data usage per customer per month will be expanded to 45GB, a 50 percent increase.
Customers will then be able to use a maximum of 150GB a month in peak times and 300GB overall – double the current limits. Off-peak is 1.00am to 7.00am local time on Sky Muster.
NBN Co, however, can’t control how this will be reflected in the plans offered by its RSPs.
In a statement, the company said “the majority of consumers and businesses on the service are expected to receive larger peak and off-peak plans from their retailer at a similar cost to what they are paying today".
Just how large RSPs are willing to go will depend on how far they can push current plans without going over the new limits.
NBN Co CEO Bill Morrow said the changes showed the company had “listened to rural industry groups and the community”.
“We are confident that this announcement is a step in the right direction to improve their internet experience,” Morrow said.
“We will continue to optimise the pricing model and data plans of the Sky Muster service with further offerings on business and education services expected to be available in the next 12-18 months.”
NBN Co said its ability to raise the data limits came about because the company had been able to “increase total capacity available on the service” once it had seen the two Sky Muster satellites operating in “real-world conditions”.
It is understood the extra capacity is not a direct result of the second satellite being deployed, but rather is capacity that network engineers had not counted on being able to access when the satellite network was planned.
Better Internet for Rural, Regional and Remote (BIRRR) Australia founder Kristy Sparrow welcomed the “much lobbied-for data increase”.
She urged RSPs “to work with NBN Co and their customers to ensure the new higher data plans are affordable and meet the individual needs of regional consumers".
“We’ve advocated for increased data limits ever since the launch of Sky Muster, as we believe the current maximum of 75GB [in peak times] is inadequate for the multiple needs that rural customers often require,” Sparrow said.
She said BIRRR would continue lobbying for “improved reliability, changes to off-peak hours, business grade services and an increased fixed wireless footprint to help alleviate pressure” on Sky Muster.