Recently, Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite internet prices were revealed for Australia. Of course, satellite NBN is already a think here, so how do the two compare?
It’s extremely worth noting that this is all currently just speculation. Starlink has not launched in Australia yet and is currently in beta in other parts of the world.
But what we do have is pricing, proposed speeds and data inclusions. So we can get a preliminary idea of the differences between the two services before real world tests can be done.
What is Satellite NBN Sky Muster?
Sky Muster is one of the seven different NBN connection types in Australia.
It’s similar to Fixed Wireless because it doesn’t rely on fibre or copper cables to connect to the NBN. This is why it’s often used in rural areas that don’t currently have access to a wired internet connection.
However, Sky Muster is able to take this even further by servicing remote areas that don’t even have stable 4G access.
Sky Muster works through a satellite ground station sends the connection to a satellite, which sends it back down to a rooftop satellite on the premises.
How fast is it?
Compared to other NBN services, particularly Fibre to the Premises (FTTP), Sky Muster can be quite a bit slower.
While FTTP and some HFC connections can now access NBN 1000 and NBN 250 plans, Sky Muster still only offers NBN 12 and 25.
However, the introduction of Sky Muster Plus has sped things up a bit. It also offers burst speeds which allows connections to go above the usual NBN 12 and NBN 25 limits.
While it’s still not able to get anywhere near NBN 250 or gigabit speeds, it’s an improvement.
Comparatively, the Starlink website states that its users will have between 50Mbps to 150Mb speeds, with a latency range from 20ms to 40ms. And early beta users are reporting speeds of over 100Mbps.
While we’ll need to see real world proof, this is certainly a higher promise than Sky Muster at the present time.
And this makes sense. Starlink relies on low-orbit satellites that are around 60-times closer to earth than other internet satellite systems. This will, in theory, give it the ability to provide faster speeds and lower latency.
Data inclusions are also a major consideration.
For the most part, Sky Muster NBN plans are capped. As you can see in some of the examples below, it’s between the 200 and 250GB a month mark. Compared to other wired NBN services, this is quite limiting.
However, Sky Muster Plus has been a big help here, too. It allows for unlimited data for most basic online activities, like email, phone and computer updates, some text-based social media and messenger services and text-based web browsing.
However, the unlimted data offering doesn’t extend to video streaming or VPN usage.
Here is Skymuster’s current NBN 25 plans:
And you can find out more about the Plus plans here.
If you were hoping that Starlink might offer even more… that remains to be seen.
The FAQ reveals that there are currently no data caps during the beta. This is great, but this is quite specific language. Considering the cost of satellite internet, it could very well change once Starlink is out of beta.
Sky Muster and Starlink Pricing
At the present time only one price is being offered by Starlink — $139 per month, plus a $709 hardware fee and $100 shipping fee.
Comparatively, Sky Muster has a range of different pricing options starting from $49.95 a month all the way up to $300 a month.
These vary based on your data inclusions and whether you’re opting for the added bonuses of Sky Muster Plus.
On top of the extra freedom of choice, Sky Muster doesn’t have a set up fee.
So at the moment it seems like there are potential pros and cons for both services. It will really come down to what you value in a satellite internet service.
It would also probably be prudent to seek out more real-world Starlink delivery results before committing to it.