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NBN Sky Muster users get data boost as Plus users to only have video and VPN counted

An extra 45GB available for regular NBN satellite users, while applications like Skype and Facebook to be removed from the SkyMuster Plus data cap.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

At the end of March, users on an NBN Sky Muster plan will receive an extra 45GB towards their data cap over the next three months, the government-owned wholesaler said on Wednesday. After the first month, NBN will reexamine the data boost over the following months.

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NBN said it was making the change to cater for higher data volumes as people work from home and children need to be schooled remotely.

For its Sky Muster Plus plans, NBN said it would be including applications such as Skype and FaceTime in its unmetered activity category.

"Once these enhancements take effect, all traffic on NBN Sky Muster Plus plans will be unmetered, except for video streaming and traffic via a VPN, both of which will continue to be metered," the company said.

Sky Muster Plus was launched in August and saw NBN move into Layer 3 of the networking stack to allow it to exempt certain traffic from its satellite data quota. The plan has a standard 25/5Mbps speed, and depending on network capacity, users may be bursted to higher speeds.

NBN also announced on Wednesday it would introduce a new plan with 25GB of peak data and the same amount of off-peak data, allowing retailers to increment plans by 5GB up to a maximum of 150GB of peak and off-peak data, and will deploy in the coming months the ability for customers to get more data once their quota is used up.

The changes to Sky Muster Plus will take effect from April 1.

"Based on feedback from internet retailers and customers, we have decided to take this action to provide additional support for that expected increase in day-time usage expected to increase due to increased activity on the network," NBN chief development officer rural and regional Gavin Williams said.

"NBN will continue to closely monitor data usage together with internet retailers, and will seek to implement any additional measures required where available including monitoring of the peak times, to support customers during these uncertain times."

Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said NBN will also suspend disconnection of copper connections to regional premises, as well as noting the 40% capacity boost NBN handed to retailers last week regardless of access technology.

"Under the new Sky Muster Plus offering, approximately 70% of all data use is expected to be unmetered compared to about 30% under the current plans, with the product also supporting unmetered usage for education applications and apps such as Skype and FaceTime for the first time," Fletcher said.

Earlier in the week, Fletcher was boasting that NBN had passed 11 million premises.

"In recent weeks, the NBN has been critical as more and more people work from home in response to COVID-19 social distancing measures. And when the work is done, the NBN has also been there for entertainment and gaming," he said.

"The NBN has more capacity and flexibility to accommodate changing data usage patterns than the networks it has replaced and is well placed to optimise the delivery of its services so that Australians stay connected and productive, and benefit from a great piece of national infrastructure."

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