Goodbye Sky Muster, hello fixed wireless for a bunch of regional and rural homes and businesses.
NBN Co has announced that “around” 24,000 homes and businesses in regional Australia are now eligible to use fixed wireless NBN plans instead of satellite-based plans. It’s part of a wider investment in the network, partly funded by $480 million of Federal Government money as well as $270 million from NBN Co.
If you’re an existing satellite NBN customer, does this automatically mean you can switch over until those 24,000 slots are “taken”?
No. Sorry about that.
NBN Co states that the premises that can access fixed wireless “have been selected based on their proximity to existing nbn fixed wireless towers”, which makes sense. There’d be no point in letting you sign up to a plan if you had no hope of getting the data connection from it, after all.
Breaking it down by state, NBN Co says that there are 6,700 premises in New South Wales, 6,500 in Queensland, 5,900 in Victoria, 2,200 in South Australia, 1,800 in Western Australia and 1,200 in Tasmania respectively.
Update: NBN tells me that this 24,000 figure represents around 20% of the roughly 120,000 premises that are designated to switch from NBN Satellite to NBN Fixed wireless, hopefully by the end of 2024.
As always, your best bet for accurately checking availability will be via the NBN Co website.
So what does this mean in real terms if you’re an NBN Satellite subscriber? While it could represent a cost savings, depending on plan choice, the bigger benefit is likely to be in the removal of data caps with many (but not all) plans offering an unlimited tier.
While NBN Co has started toying with various satellite models for greater data usage, those plans are still very much in the pilot stage at this point.
I’ve long covered the NBN in news reports and especially at Vertical Hold: Behind the Tech News, the weekly podcast I do with Adam Turner and a revolving menu of Australia’s best tech journalists. There, we often refer to the NBN as our soup du jour.
One of the more contentious divides in the way that the national broadband network has been rolled out across Australia has been around who got what technology in which location.
In much of the reporting this has focused on the fixed line networks, with the FTTP (and to a lesser extent HFC) parts of the network getting all the attention. But regional and rural areas shouldn’t be ignored in this story either. It was always going to be the case that the most remote parts of the nation would be on some level of wireless technology, and this is a welcome upgrade.
It’s even a welcome upgrade if you’re still on a Satellite NBN connection after the transition, too, if only because that’s a potential 24,000 other users no longer accessing the limited bandwidth of the Sky Muster satellites.