- Posted by Bryan Weatherall
- On August 15, 2019
- 0 Comments
When it’s snowing outside and you’ve a bub to keep warm and dry, setting up in front of the TV to stream a few movies is the cosy choice for a family.
But until recently that’s been a fraught situation for the Kamble family, who, as regional internet users, have often felt like they were living in the “dark ages”.
Owners and managers of Kosciuszko Tourist Park near Jindabyne, Sushil and Priyanka Kamble had a data limit of 300 gigabytes a month – 200 during the day and 100 in the night. When they stayed indoors with their five-month-old son, it would run out after a few movies and leave business at a standstill.
Until they were brought into a trial of internet service Sky Muster Plus, provided by a IPSTAR, keeping connected was a constant headache.
“When the temperature outside is really cold, then we like to sit in and watch movies and we like to stream something for our baby as well,” Sushil Kamble said.
“The worst was when we used up all the gigabytes … once that is done, we can’t use emails, we can’t even open banking – nothing.”
Mr Kamble installed a large antenna and had a backup 3G modem, but when it snowed, the modem stopped working.
“That 3G sim card wouldn’t work completely as a reliable internet; I could send a couple of emails,” he said.
“We’d have to download the [tourist park] sheet off the booking software, and just work by the books. We’d see who is coming in today when they came in, I’d take them off.”
With the trial of Sky Muster Plus, which launched to Australian customers on August 9, the Kamble’s internet service improved exponentially.
The plan offers 300 gigabytes, so the same as their previous service, but doesn’t count “essential” services like emails, internet banking, Windows updates, social media and text, and general browsing in data usage.
The streaming of content like Netflix or Facebook videos is capped.
The new product was officially launched by Communications Minister Paul Fletcher on Monday.
Mr Fletcher said some online browsing activities like completing schoolwork, banking, accessing health or government services, keeping your smartphone and PC operating system software up to date would not contribute to a household’s monthly data allowance with the Sky Muster Plus product.
“Sky Muster Plus is a great example of the flexibility of the NBN satellites, delivering tailored products to allow consumers to access greater benefits from their Sky Muster service,” Mr Fletcher said.
Minister for Regional Services Mark Coulton said Sky Muster Plus users would have more opportunities to embrace online services.
“Today’s announcement will improve connectivity and provide families with a fast and reliable service to stay in touch with loved ones and build their businesses,” he said.
Better Internet for Rural, Regional and Remote Australia (BIRRR) spokesperson Kristy Sparrow said the new product had some flaws, but overall is a step in the right direction.
“The biggest negative people would find is the actual cost of Sky Muster Plus,” she said.
“We encourage NBN Co to look at the wholesale price of the product because the cost is quite high.
“It is also difficult for people to know how it will benefit them unless they are very familiar with their browsing habits. It might not be easy to work out what plan to go for.”
Mrs Sparrow said BIRR was happy the NBN had made improvements to the product.
“I was delighted in my trial that I found 37 per cent of my data was unmetered,” she said. “What I am excited about is that if all your data is used up by the kids watching Netflix, you won’t get shaped (slowed down) to do the essential tasks, so I can still conduct my business even when you’re shaped on metered data.”
“I would encourage NBN to continue working on enhancing the Sky Muster satellite, and we are appreciative of their efforts so far.”
NBN Co’s CEO Stephen Rue said that about one-third of the total data used in July was unmetered.
“This not only frees up more data for metered activities such as video streaming or accessing cloud storage and we know this is particularly important for small businesses, which are critical to local communities,” he said.
The Sky Muster Plus product is now available on a variety of plans but only to eligible premises.