Sky Muster Plus is a service that offers unmetered data for functions such as e-mail and web browsing and ‘speed bursts' above the current maximum speed of 25 Megabits per second (Mbps).
The Regional, Rural and Remote Communications Coalition (RRRCC) is celebrating the launch of the new NBN Co's product, describing the service as a win for internet users in the bush.
"This enhancement is a game-changer for families and small businesses who rely on Sky Muster services, and is a direct result of the advocacy of the RRRCC," National Farmers' Federation (NFF) chief executive officer Tony Mahar said.
"Sky Muster Plus will mean essential internet uses such as browsing, banking, email and software updates are exempt from monthly data allowances.
"As a result, when those data allowances have been exceeded, wholesale download speeds for regular web activities like accessing emails or internet banking won't be slowed down - meaning business can go on and residents stay connected.
"This is a fantastic development that reflects NBN Co's willingness to take on board, and respond to customer needs" Mahar said.
NBN Co ran a Sky Muster Plus trial with a small number of customers from June to August. RRRCC member and co-founder of Better Internet for Rural, Regional and Remote Australia, Kristy Sparrow, was one of the Sky Muster customers to make the switch to Sky Muster Plus during the trial.
"Our experience with Sky Muster Plus has been very positive, with about 37 per cent of our data usage being unmetered during the trial," Sparrow said.
"We regularly had speed bursts of up to 50 Mbps and enjoyed being able to do essential internet tasks such as banking and emails when we were shaped on our metered data usage.
"Sky Muster Pus will not be suitable for all users, depending on your browsing habits, however it is certainly a step in the right direction to improve connectivity options for rural and remote residents."
Since its inception in 2017 the RRRCC has been calling for data allowances to reflect the reality of internet use in remote areas. Sky Muster customers are most likely to have no other reliable broadband communication options, and these customers often have additional needs such a running multiple businesses from their premises, educating children and housing a number of employees.
"We are delighted that the NBN Co has listened and worked closely with the RRRCC to develop a practical solution in Sky Muster Plus, and we look forward to the product being made available to Sky Muster customers across the country," Sparrow said.