NBN Sky Muster satellite

Edit: New readers to the topic can join as of May 2023 by clicking here.

NBN Co was last year accused of using Sky Muster as a “dumping ground” for premises on metropolitan fringes that were otherwise too hard or expensive to serve with other access technologies.

The last time NBN Co provided a count of these premises was nearly two years ago; back then, it amounted to several thousand, and the Sky Muster satellite footprint has only increased since then.

Back when those figures were current, the Sky Muster footprint covered 421,000 premises. It is currently at 437,487 premises, and the number continues to grow.

Telstra’s actually trying to spin the issue to maintain their profits. They’re trying to get out of their universal service obligations. Those obligations were a condition of full privatisation (including the infrastructure). If Telstra wants out, then they can hand back the infrastructure.


It looks like enthusiasm for Sky Muster connections is waning. Maybe satellite isn’t even a reasonable stopgap these days.

Data from here.

The chart identifies:

  • premises covered by Sky Muster (red),
  • total active nbn satellite connections (blue)
  • percentage with active connections (green).

We can see that SM activation’s have completely tailed off.

[(Note: nbn have recently radically adjusted the number of planned active connection from 50% down to 25% of ready to connect premises!)]

We are currently well and truly stuck at [21.5%] or less than half of nbn’s SM current quota plan.

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I wonder how many of the affected premises have (or had) existing copper connections?


An update that is a little more revealing and cold comfort?

The question of customers with accessible legacy services retaining or regaining access is also asked. No response.

Between the lines in the report.
Off loading near urban customers to satellite only makes the outcomes worse for those in remote areas for whom Satellite is the only current option. The only winner is the NBN budget and revenue stream.


…and government whose white elephant project can thus be claimed to be on track, great decision while still blaming the ALP for everything that went wrong along the way. They will also start every sentence with we delivered… previously only garden and farm suppliers were happy to brag about delivering manure but this government seems happy to take what it can and see what sticks.


Anyone who has ever written obfuscated spin to explain an outage will understand the following perfectly:

“network engineers have confirmed that a 31 degree roll on the satellite spacecraft switching traffic to a backup computer, which has caused traffic to become muted. The antennas will now be realigned to unmute traffic.”

… said someone from the department of redefinition of terminology.

Apparently “The satellite is still in orbit and in communication with NBN Co network engineers.” … still in orbit eh? was there any doubt?

It’s not uncommon for space weather (read ‘natural phenomena/act of god’ - ie not our fault and you’ll be hard pressed to prove otherwise) to affect sat comms, though I couldn’t see any reference to other major outages. Refer back to the spin.

I’m putting it down to the effects of the “Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator” …


It takes a FOI request to Learn what many suspected. The example for Adelaide, a mostly flat place with low rolling hills on one horizon is revealing. Not enough to pin point localities though.

The most interesting reveal?

February this year, with an estimated 6500 premises Australia-wide within 25km of a capital city GPO mapped to Sky Muster. That data release was current to November 12.

There isn’t yet an update on the full national number as at the end of the NBN volume rollout, though the interest in that is likely to be high, given NBN Co recently rezoned 42,000 premises that proved too hard to connect with fixed wireless to either the fixed-line or satellite footprints instead


25 Km from the Adelaide GPO takes in a huge amount of the Adelaide Hills - Echunga, Woodside, Hahndorf, Cudlee Creek, etc - places where the copper infrastructure is nothing short of rubbish and cell can be problematic. The hills face is only 7-8 Km from the GPO in an E-ESE direction. While the Adelaide Hills are hardly ‘mountains’ by Tibetan standards, the aren’t exactly ‘rolling’ in many places either … not dissimilar to the Dandenongs, which has equally bad copper infrastructure in my experience. I can’t imagine anyone pulling glass into these places either …


I’ve had to use my phone as a hotspot for much of the past 2 days due to the nbn satellite not functioning.
However, it does have the advantage of giving me faster loading web pages!


They had sufficient imagination to pull copper in at one time! More remote locations on microwave links being creative, and perhaps the inspiration or original MTM solution.

Although there may be a need to upgrade some ducts and pits, pulling out of the old copper and replacement with ‘glass’ is the easy bit. All the more likely to become topical when the copper will fail and unable to provide even basic voice services. The satellite only service solution will be the cheapest way out for whoever owns that part of the NBN, personal outcomes not valued.


And again this arvo, although it was working this morning.


Sounds like mostly down with a small chance to be up…like a weather report when they say mostly dry with a small chance of rain…if it happens to rain (or for the Satellite to work in the NBN instance) you are lucky and if it doesn’t situation normal.


I take some sadistic pleasure in reading about the trials and tribulations of SkyJerk service. In my little corner of the community our NBN infrastructure has uniquely lost power more than once and been down for 3 to 12 hours even while it was the only service to have lost it. UPS? Spares? ‘Why bother?’ as it seems.


They had a directive, lots of relatively cheap labour, relatively high prices and no competition. They ‘just did it’. The service guarantee meant something also - people in crazy places ‘got the phone on’ for a fraction of the real cost in some exceptional cases (for example, a complete DRCS 2 hop system for the price of a ‘standard install’ replacing a party line with magneto phones). There are some who argue this country had one of the best coverage networks in the world, albeit voice only from a customer in the street perspective - it call came at a price though, and all came crashing down when competition came along, which wasn’t all bad, the price came down also …

We still have people pulling stuff into crazy places - one wouldn’t necessarily imagine the overland telegraph being done again for purely commercial reasons, yet the big T isn’t the only glass in outback Australia - so one never knows :slight_smile:


Yes, I’ve remarked at other times at the extreme cost and penalty of paying STD charges. Around 60c per minute of call time in 1980 is my recollection. You needed to take a pocket full of coin to the corner phone box for a short 3 minute call. Sometimes two corners away. Or hours by light plane in other locales?

The concern or challenge today is that the NBN satellite service is being used to backfill coverage in near urban areas. From a NBN Co business case it is one way to reduce total spend in the fixed line or FW options. At the same time it potentially increases the number of customers serviced through the satellite system. It’s a cost already expensed and supposedly under subscribed vs original forecasts. Hence the more on Satellite the better for the NBN Co? Although forecasts are that the service will never make a profit.

The lack of transparency leaves those just at the edge of the fixed line footprint to ponder the real cost. What was the true cost of bringing service to the neighbours down the road a few hundred metres distant, or on the other side of the back paddock? Would it really be tens of thousands, or just an extra thousand to have gone the extra metres?

The roll out map can be a great tool for those with enough patience to ferret the neighbours service connection details. It would be revealing possibly damming to see it produced with colour overlays to show the type of service to each property, as well as who has or has not connected. In our instance the map suggests our property and the neighbours could have been serviced by FTTC, because others further away have been. The reality is there is a 55m FW tower down the road. It would have lost 75+ potential customers. The die has been long cast, and the voting habits of the locals long ago metamorphosed.


These kinds of communities are exactly where cities are spreading to. Bad luck if you want to run your web design business from Hahndorf or Aldgate (although the latter is within that 25km radius).


It was 90 cents per minute at the maximum distance rate in the 1970’s. EG, Cairns to Brisbane.

What business could get away with when there was no competition, just a Government owned and enforced monopoly.

Whoever said that crime does not pay?

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Wondering what we are talking about?


What you can get for $1B these days. DIY home broadband. Excludes ground station, operator, and statutory approvals. Comes with guaranteed 16.4kW of solar and 80Gbps data rate. Enough capacity to share 1Gbps with 79 of your best friends. (Weather and solar conditions permitting.)

There is one other caveat. The satellites each have a 15 year design life. The first was launched in 2015. Something to look forward to in 2030 for all those currently using the NBN satellite service. An end of lifetime upgrade? In the interim some interesting community questions given the long lead time anticipated.


An interesting article regarding a user’s experience of using Starlink in Canada.

Not cheap but at least it works where nothing else does.

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It will apparently be coming to Australia, and the satellites are in low Earth orbit (LEO) - meaning latency can apparently be as low as 32ms. That is higher than what I currently get, but the upload and download speeds may be quite a bit faster than what many of us currently get.

Of course, satellite Internet still has the problem it shares with anything that uses radiation to propagate data - limited total bandwidth. And hopefully future Starlink satellites will be painted a dull black to give astronomers some fractional chance of seeing the night sky.