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 Labor calls for overhaul of Sky Muster's ‘fair use’ data restrictions

 Shadow regional communications minister Stephen Jones has called for an independent expert review of NBN's Sky Muster satellite service and an overhaul of the current ‘fair use’ policy for its users.

In a keynote speech to the Australasia Satellite Forum, Jones said the review should be conducted at arm’s length from government and cover installation and stability issues as well as network assurance issues between NBN and its retail providers.

“Sky Muster should have been a good news story for remote Australia. However, the deployment of Sky Muster has been nothing short of abysmal and this has greatly damaged the reputation of satellite technology solutions in Australia,” he said.

Labor is also calling for greater transparency and accountability on the arrangements which underpin how NBN and retail providers interact to service satellite customers.

“The public has a right to understand what is going on and what this means for the consumer. We must have greater transparency over what obligations and incentives NBN has to assist retail providers in resolving faults and delivering for their customers,” he told the Forum audience.

“A lack of accountability on the wholesale network-operator has left retail providers disempowered and unresponsive. This is to the detriment of consumers who will continue to be left stranded.” NBN's current fair use policy is one of the most consistent complaints among regional and remote users, who complain that it is insufficient for everyday needs.

The shadow minister claimed that nobody knew the assumptions that underlie the data restrictions or whether the current limits would change over time. He also suggested that no one knows what the level of utilisation is of the 101 Sky Muster spot beams or what the growth projections are.

“We know that of the 101 beams directed towards Australia, that those down the East Coast, are ‘hot’ – crowded with customers, while those in remote areas are being under-utilised,” he said.

“This review is needed in order to increase data for customers – particularly in the under-utilised satellite areas of very remote Australia. A fair use policy is a reasonable approach to take at the commencement of a new service but I don’t believe that all of the settings are right.” Geoff Long