600 Sky Muster satellite broadband users impacted by extended outage

Sally Gall
By Sally Gall
Updated January 10 2022 - 10:26am, first published January 7 2022 - 6:00am
Sky Muster outage delivers dud Christmas for hundreds of users

Nearly 600 remote satellite broadband users went without a service throughout the Christmas period, thanks to an 'incident' that impacted NBN Co's Sky Muster and Sky Muster Plus services.

An nbn spokesman said on Thursday that the company had successfully restored services to 497 premises of the 573 that had been impacted, and were working as quickly as possible to get the remaining 76 premises affected back online.

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It's understood that the incident, the cause of which nbn isn't commenting on, initially affected 34 per cent or just under 38,000 satellite customers on December 21, but most had their service restored soon after.

For the rest, about 0.5pc of the total, it has been an extremely frustrating couple of weeks without internet.

One of those impacted was Winton's Donna Paynter, who had visitors with small children staying for the Christmas period.

"We have mobile coverage so we at least had a way of communicating, but it was so hot over those days - you just want to be inside, making use of your Christmas presents, or catching up with bookwork," she said.

She and husband John returned home on December 23 to discover there was no internet and initially thought the extreme heat may have been the cause.

"But it was just us - all our neighbours had internet - it was very odd," she said.

The outage affected premises seemingly at random across Australia.

The Better Internet for Regional Rural and Remote Australia group said it was disappointing that it was taking so long to resolve the problem.

"Some of our members have been without a connection over Christmas and new year and during cyclone and fire season," a spokesperson said.

"We understand that no technology is 100pc reliable, however we encourage nbn to ensure processes are put in place that prevent extended outages in the future, particularly when our research shows that over 40pc of nbn Sky Muster users don't have an alternate connection."

The increasing level of frustration from customers was reflected in advice being distributed by retail service providers such as Skymesh as the outage stretched on.

"SkyMesh has been and will continue to place extreme pressure on nbn Co for an outcome for these services and expect further information from nbn Co with urgency today," one of SkyMesh's advisory notes said.

"SkyMesh, to date, are yet to receive any solid communication on the root cause of these ongoing issues.

"We will continue to advocate and work alongside nbn Co at their request to get this outage resolved."

Nbn said the outage was likely related to an incident that occurred on December 21.

It thanked customers for their patience and apologised for the inconvenience people were experiencing.

Both BIRRR and Ms Paynter paid tribute to SkyMesh for keeping people informed throughout the extended outage.

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"SkyMesh was very communicative, even on Christmas Eve," Ms Paynter said.

SkyMesh has since advised that it was intending to give customers a credit for time offline in bulk, meaning they would not need to speak with the company in order to receive it.

A statement said that many customers had "understandably" called to request a credit for their time offline.

"We expect this will be completed in the coming weeks as we complete a debrief with nbn at the resolution of the outage," the statement read.

Former Maranoa MP Bruce Scott, who lives at Roma in south western Queensland, commented on social media that it was "a timely reminder that for people living in rural and remote areas in a emergency, a clear voice telephone service is essential and could be a life saver as a satellite service can and does fail".

The BIRRR spokesperson said any consumers that remained offline should contact their provider.

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Sally Gall

Sally Gall

Senior journalist - Queensland Country Life/North Queensland Register

Based at Blackall, CW Qld, where I've raised a family, run Merino sheep and beef cattle, and helped develop a region - its history, tourism, education and communications.

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