The best NBN satellite internet plans
SkyMeshRead more55GB peak data/180GB off-peak$44.95/mth
iiNetRead more60GB peak data/190GB off-peak$64.99/mth
IPSTARRead more150GB peak data/150GB off-peak$130/mth
Activ8meRead more15GB peak data/135GB off-peak$39.95/mth
Sky Muster Plus 100GBRead more50GB peak data/50GB off-peak$74.95/mth
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 iiNet NBN Satellite 250 Standard 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.
What is satellite internet?
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.
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.
When picking the right satellite NBN plan for your home, it’s worth weighing up overall data, peak data inclusions, speed and value. We’ve factored in these considerations for our category winners.
Best overall satellite internet plan (value)
SkyMesh 235GB Basic I
By crunching the data-to-dollars value across plans, the SkyMesh 235GB Basic I plan comes out on top. During peak times (7am to 1am), you’ve got 55GB of data to work with a month, and 180GB of off-peak data (1am to 7am) for scheduling overnight downloads. If you go over your monthly allowance, speeds are slowed to symmetrical 128kbps for the rest of the billing cycle.
There is a 12-month contract, which means the first-year cost of paying $44.95 a month comes to $539.40. This is a Basic I plan, though, so don’t expect speeds to stretch beyond 12Mbps. You can, however, opt for the still-great value of the SkyMesh 235GB Basic II plan if you’d like to tap into speeds that have the potential to hit closer to 25Mbps.
Here’s a handful of other popular Basic I satellite NBN plans.
Satellite vs Fixed Wireless
Best big-data satellite internet plan
iiNet NBN Satellite 250 Standard
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 iiNet NBN Satellite 250 Standard plan is our pick this month. It has 250GB of data that’s spread across 60GB peak (between 7am and 1am) and 190GB off-peak (between 1am and 7am).
There’s no contract and you can BYO modem to save money if you’re churning from another provider, and you’re looking at spending $64.99 per month ($779.88 first-year cost). This iiNet satellite internet plan is a Basic II service, too, 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.
Why are there off-peak and on-peak data periods?
These measures are put in by the NBN as there is only a certain amount of capacity or data that can be shared between everyone on the satellite network. By splitting up the data usage times between when it thinks most people will and won’t be on the network, the idea is that it will change people’s internet habits to spread usage out and ensure fast and reliable connections for everyone.
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 $125 a month, but there is one month free in exchange for a 12-month contract ($1,375 first-year cost), or two months if you opt for a 24-month contract.
You can also BYO 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 budget satellite internet plan
Activ8me Sky Muster 150GB Sonic
When comparing the most affordable satellite internet plans, Activ8me proves to be a tough provider to beat. The provider’s winning Sky Muster 150GB Sonic plan is charged at $39.95 per month whether you opt for a 12-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 150GB of monthly data to work with, split across 15GB of peak (between 7am and 1am) and 135GB of off-peak data (between 1am and 7am), which means you should schedule bigger downloads overnight. Activ8me is also throwing in a three-month PlayOn Cloud trial, which lets you record your favourite streaming shows during off-peak hours.
Have a look at this winning plan stacked next to other low-price satellite internet plans below.
Best satellite internet plan for speed
SkyMesh Sky Muster Plus 100GB
Okay, so 100GB isn’t a lot of data, but 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 plan splits peak and off-peak data allowances in half, so you have 50GB 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.
You can see other popular Basic II satellite internet plans below.
How does NBN satellite broadband get installed?
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.
Which providers offer NBN satellite internet?
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.
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”.
NBN Co classifies email, updated for select operating systems and basic text and image data as essential and therefore unmetered. Non-essential services cover basically everything else, such as streaming YouTube or Spotify.
Satellite NBN vs Starlink
In late 2021 and early 2022, rural Australians will have a whole new satellite internet option to choose from, Elon Musk’s Starlink. Starlink satellite internet has already begun rolling out across regional NSW and northern VIC with more sites expected to go live towards the end of the year.
Customers on the private beta pay $139 per month for unlimited downloads with speeds reported between 40Mbps and over 300Mbps. There is a hefty setup fee of $700 and a hardware shipping fee of $100 but if the early reports are anything to go by, Starlink will be a solid alternative for Satellite NBN customers.
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.
We’ll reserve judgement until Starlink is more readily available but, on paper, Starlink looks like a far more reliable satellite internet solution than the NBN.
Most popular satellite internet plans
Below is an updating list of the 10 most popular satellite internet plans (with at least 50GB of data).
- What is satellite internet?
- Best value satellite internet plan
- Best big-data satellite internet plan
- Best peak-data satellite internet plan
- Best budget satellite internet plan
- Best-speed satellite internet plan
- Satellite NBN installation
- Satellite NBN providers
- Satellite NBN vs Starlink
- Satellite internet plans