Bush internet users will move a step closer to the speeds experienced by their city counterparts under a trial announced this morning.
Up to 10,000 rural Australians will have access to a new NBN Sky Muster satellite plan, which will be completely unmetered.
The plan will provide speeds of up to 100mbs download and 20mbs upload, about twice that of existing NBN Sky Muster Plus plans.
Communications advocacy group Better Internet for Rural, Regional and Remote Australia founder and chief admin Kristy Sparrow said the enhancements were a key request from consumers.
"We are pleased to see NBN following through with their commitment to upgrade regional networks and enhance its Sky Muster offerings," she said.
"The Plus plans have been well received by our members, but for those who require speeds above the current 50mbs download, or are heavy metered data users in the evening the move to fully unmetered data will be very welcome."
The trial is slated to begin next month and will run until May.
If successful, the new plan will be made available to all customers in the Sky Muster satellite footprint.
It has been made possible as a result of upgrades to the NBN's fixed wireless services; these upgrades will make it possible for 120,000 homes to move from satellite to fixed wireless and free up capacity on Sky Muster.
Federal Communications Minister Michelle Rowland said the trial was exciting news for Australians living in regional and remote communities served by NBN Sky Muster Plus.
"This is the first time Sky Muster Plus customers will be able to access unmetered monthly data allowances, and if the trial is successful, could significantly boost broadband speeds in the bush," Ms Rowland said.
"The Albanese government is committed to narrowing the digital divide between our major cities and regional communities.
"Faster, more reliable speeds are critical to unlocking the digital economy, supporting remote work and education, and improving access to tele-health across the country."
Ms Sparrow said BIRRR had been assured the trial would be staged to ensure there were no disruptions to existing SkyMuster users.
"Our understanding is that selected trial participants will be invited to take part by their provider," she said.
Ms Sparrow said she was unaware of any pricing commitments for the plans, but said BIRRR would continue to advocate to both NBN and retail service providers for plans that were affordable for rural, regional and remote consumers.
"It's fantastic to see NBN delivering on recommendations tabled by the Regional Telecommunications Independent Review Committee in 2021 and lobbied for by BIRRR and its membership," she said
"Equitable access to the internet underpins access to education, health and support services."
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