The deal means that Southern Phone will be the first provider to offer Optus Satellite NBN connections to the general public. So if you're living in a regional location where fixed line or wireless NBN isn't an option, this could mean you'll finally be able to connect to reliable broadband.
Optus states that it chose to team up with Southern Phone due to the latter's experience in servicing customers outside of metropolitan areas. The new Sky Muster plans are delivered by NBN's dual satellites, with the potential to connect around 400,000 homes and businesses in remote locations.
Sky Muster: plans and prices
Southern Phone's Sky Muster plans are available now to customers in eligible remote areas, and start at $40 per month for 60GB of data at 12Mbps speeds. Plans are offered up to 300GB per month, which Southern Phone is pricing from $95 on a month-to-month contract (and again, with maximum downloads of 12Mbps).
If 12Mbps isn't quite fast enough, speedier options are available. Customers can add a speed upgrade for an extra $5 per month to any Sky Muster plan, increasing your maximum download speed to 25Mbps and uploads to 5Mps.
Right now, customers who sign up for the Large 180GB plan can claim a $10 per month discount between now and the end of 2017. The plan is currently priced at $55 per month, but will revert to regular $65 pricing as of January 1, 2018.
What do I need to know?
Potential customers should be aware that all data is divided into peak and off-peak allowances. For example, the 60GB plan includes 20GB of peak data and 40GB for off-peak use, while the 180GB option includes 60GB of peak data and 120GB off-peak. Peak hours are from 7am to 1am, while off-peak applies to 1am to 7am.
If you do decide to connect, you won't be locked into a 12 or 24-month contract. All plans are offered on a month-to-month basis, but keep in mind a $59 activation fee applies. You may also need to purchase a compatible WiFi modem, which is available for $99.
Unfortunately, Southern Phone is subject to the official Fair Use Policy for NBN's Sky Muster satellite services, which requires the telco to limit average customer peak hour data use to 30GB of downloads per week (and 5GB of uploads) in any four-week period.
So while Sky Muster will hopefully make life easier for Australians in previously unserviceable locations, it's still noticeably inferior to fixed line and fixed wireless NBN plans in terms of value and flexibility.
Interested in standard NBN plans with your choice of speeds and data? Start comparing NBN options here.