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There are satellite internet plans that have a good mix of value and peak data.
If you're looking to wrap your mind around the ins and outs of Australia's satellite internet landscape before signing up with a new provider, you've come to the right place.
Unlike the best picks for fixed-line NBN (for metro areas) or even Fixed Wireless NBN, Sky Muster satellite NBN is the slowest of the three types. On top of this, peak and off-peak data allowances are used to manage finite bandwidth, unlimited data isn’t a thing, and contracts are more common.
This month, we’ve tweaked our categories to offer the best picks across meaningful categories. Best value remains with SkyMesh, and the provider also takes out the top spot for our pick of best speed satellite internet plan. Activ8me’s Sky Muster 150GB Sonic plan should appeal to those looking for satellite internet on a budget, while SkyMesh's 300GB plan takes out the big-data pick, and IPSTAR’s NBN Satellite 150 plan is the best value for those seeking a decent chunk of peak data.
- : SkyMesh 170GB Basic II
- : Activ8me Sky Muster 155GB Sonic
- : Skymesh 300GB Sky Muster Special
- : IPSTAR NBN Satellite 150
- : SkyMesh Sky Muster Plus 100GB Peak
Best satellite internet overall
SkyMesh 170GB Basic II
By crunching the data-to-dollars value across plans, the SkyMesh 170GB Basic II (up to 25Mbps) plan comes out on top (when you factor in the added speed boost). SkyMesh gives you 30GB of anytime data to work with a month and 140GB of off-peak data (1am to 7am) for scheduling overnight downloads. If you go over your monthly allowance, speeds are slowed to symmetrical 256kbps for the rest of the billing cycle.
SkyMesh satellite internet plans have moved to a month-to-month arrangement since we last updated this guide. That's great for flexibility but it does mean you're charged a little more for the same inclusions. Still, you can save an additional $10 per month if you decide to bundle a phone with SkyMesh.
Here’s a handful of other popular Basic II satellite NBN plans.
The best fixed wireless NBN plans for remote internet access
If you're less than 14 kilometres from a Fixed Wireless NBN tower, fixed wireless could be your best option for getting faster broadband speeds at home.
Best cheap satellite internet plan
Activ8me Sky Muster 155GB Sonic
When comparing the most affordable satellite internet plans, Activ8me proves to be a tough provider to beat. The provider’s winning Sky Muster 155GB Sonic plan is charged at $39.95 per month whether you opt for a 6-month contract or contract-free option ($479.40 first-year cost).
In terms of speed, this Activ8me satellite NBN plan is a Basic II offering, meaning speeds of up to 25Mbps. You also have 155GB of monthly data to work with, split across 20GB of peak (between 7am and 1am) and 135GB of off-peak data (between 1am and 7am), which means you should schedule bigger downloads overnight.
Have a look at this winning plan stacked next to other low-price satellite internet plans below.
Best big-data satellite internet plan
Skymesh 300GB Sky Muster Special
As far as satellite internet is concerned, big data kicks in at around the 250GB point. There are plans that go beyond this, but the dollar-per-data value starts to disappear. With this in mind, the SkyMesh 300GB Sky Muster special plan is our pick this month at $54.99 per month. It has 300GB of data that’s spread across 65GB peak (between 7am and 1am) and 235GB off-peak (between 1am and 7am).
There’s no contract and you can bring your own modem to save money if you’re churning from another provider.
This SkyMesh satellite internet plan is a Basic II service, which means you can reach speeds of up to 25Mbps. Speeds are shaped to a symmetrical 128kbps during the corresponding time if you exhaust the data during peak or off-peak times.
You can see other popular Basic II satellite internet plans below.
Best peak-data satellite internet plan
IPSTAR NBN Satellite 150
It’s not cheap, but if you’re after the most amount of peak data to use during the bulk of typical waking hours, the IPSTAR NBN Satellite 150 plan is a great choice. There is a 12-month contract and you’ll be paying $130 a month, but there is one month free in exchange for a 12-month contract, or two months if you opt for a 24-month contract.
You can also bring your own modem if you’re coming across from another provider, and this is at least $60 cheaper per month than the other 300GB-offering providers. In terms of data, it’s 300GB total for the month, with an even 150GB split between peak and off-peak allowance. As is the trend, the Basic I (max 12Mbps) speeds will be slowed to 128kbps if you go over, but 150GB of peak satellite data is a stack compared to the sub-100GB offered by the sub-$100 plans.
Check out this winning peak-data plan next to other plans.
Best-speed satellite internet plan
SkyMesh Sky Muster Plus 100GB Peak
Okay, so this plan actually comes with 200GB of data, and the best-speed satellite internet plans are going to come from Sky Muster Plus plans. What is Sky Muster Plus? Sky Muster Plus is a service that has a lot of unmetered internet content, with basically VPN and video streaming the two big things that are metered. Most common internet tasks are unmetered, and if you do go over, speeds are slowed to 512/256kbps for peak times and 2,048/512kbps during off-peak times.
The SkyMesh Sky Muster Plus 100GB Peak plan separates peak and off-peak data allowances in half, so you have 100GB for both. Really, though, outside of the unmetered data, the big reason you’d consider a Sky Muster Plus plan is it has the potential to burst above the 25Mbps top speed regular Basic II satellite NBN services. In some cases, you can get speed as fast as 50Mbps.
You can see other popular Basic II satellite internet plans below.
What to look for in a satellite internet plan
Sky Muster vs Sky Muster Plus
Standard Sky Muster plans are typically capped at 25Mbps but the pricier Sky Muster Plus can achieve speeds of up to 50Mbps when there’s enough capacity on the network. Sky Muster Plus plans also offer unmetered (e.g. not counted towards your data cap) for “essential services”.
Using social media, downloading games or software updates, sending emails, music streaming and more won't toward either your peak and off-peak data. The only online activities that count toward your data usage are any traffic through a VPN, video streaming through any service, and TikTok.
Satellite NBN vs Starlink
Following its arrival in 2021, rural Australians now have a whole new satellite internet option to choose from in the form of Elon Musk's Starlink.
Starlink satellite internet has already begun rolling out across Australia, covering parts of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia, and Hobart.
Customers pay $139 per month for unlimited downloads with speeds of up to 200Mbps.
There is a hefty setup and hardware fee of $924 (and $115 in shipping and handling) but if the early reports are anything to go by, Starlink will be a solid alternative for Satellite NBN customers for several reasons.
Firstly, Satellite NBN plans still enforce strict data limits and peak/off-peak usage. Secondly, Satellite NBN only advertises speeds up to 25Mbps. It does have the potential to boost higher than that but it's subject to network capacity.
In contrast, early reports suggest that Starlink may be able to offer much faster speeds. Testing done by Ookla found Starlink customers in Australia had a median download speed of 141.55Mbps in quarter four of 2021, and a median upload speed of 14.84Mbps.
Even if Starlink is becoming more widely available, it still feels too early to make a definite call on how it compares to Australia's existing satellite internet options. On paper, it has the makings of a reliable alternative to the NBN. All the same, the sample size of Australians using Starlink remains frighteningly small relative to the other options. It's worth keeping an eye on, but hard to recommend without reservations.
Satellite internet FAQs
Satellite internet is the broadband solution to a country as far-reaching as Australia, given the cost of laying fibre. While metro areas received NBN internet via fixed-line solutions, and certain regional areas are serviced by Fixed Wireless NBN connections, rural and remote places tend to be serviced by satellite NBN connections.
There are currently 11 providers of NBN satellite internet in Australia:
- ANT Communications
- Clear Broadband
- Harbour ISP
- Southern Phone
* These providers only sell regular NBN satellite internet, while the others also offer Sky Muster Plus plans.
For you, the process of getting NBN satellite isn’t too dissimilar to how anyone would get an NBN connection, and simply involves checking you’re in a service area, finding the right provider and booking in a connection date. But let’s break that down a bit more:
- First make sure you can connect to an NBN Sky Muster Satellite plan. You can find that out by going here and running your address through. Although almost all homes in remote Australia that can’t access fibre, cable or fixed wireless NBN will be able to access it.
- Find the best plan for you. You can either take our recommendations above, or you can go here to take a look at all the best plans and find one for you.
- Book in an installation date. NBN says that it aims to have each home connected in less than 20 days after you first enquire on a plan, so hopefully you won’t be waiting too long. You will organise this directly with the internet provider you sign up with, who will guide you through it all on the day of connection too.
- Once your satellite is hooked up and configured by the NBN technician, your internet provider will provide you with a router to use to connect your devices to the internet with. This will usually be pre-configured so you’ll just need to plug it in and write down your new WiFi password.
Before you sign up to Satellite Internet, it's worth asking whether you're eligible for Fixed Wireless. Why? Well, in short, Fixed Wireless offers faster speeds and more affordable plans over the 4G mobile network. To be eligible for Fixed Wireless, you must live with 14km of a Fixed Wireless NBN tower. Head over to our guide for more information on Fixed Wireless NBN.
Satellite internet is not as good as a traditional NBN connection. There's no getting around the reality that a fixed line NBN service will typically deliver faster speeds, larger data caps at a lower cost to the consumer.
However, the key advantage that satellite internet has is coverage. There are plenty of places in Australia where the NBN doesn't reach. For those living in these locations, satellite internet isn't going to be a perfect option, but it's certainly better than the alternative.
Telstra does not currently offer satellite NBN, but that's set to change. In March 2022, the company announced it plans to move into the space in partnership with global satellite operator OneWeb.
Details on what this service will look like, how much it'll cost and how it'll compete against both existing satellite internet brands and options like Elon Musk's StarLink remain unclear. Stay tuned.
Satellite internet is slower than its Fixed Wireless and fixed-line counterparts, and it’s more likely to still work on an peak and off-peak logic, meaning data is separated into different times of the day. This is designed to preserve bandwidth, with the logic being that bigger downloads are scheduled overnight during off-peak times – when fewer people are competing for that finite satellite internet bandwidth – which frees up peak times for a smoother online experience.
NBN Co will use 5G technology to upgrade the Fixed Wireless portion of the network in the coming years. The upgrades will extend the Fixed Wireless footprint by up to 50%, allowing around 120,000 premises that could previously only get Satellite to order a much faster connection with a higher data allowance.
Once the upgrades are finished, NBN Co plans to increase the average monthly data allowance for non-Plus Sky Muster plans to 90GB.