COVID-19: NBN offers broadband boost


James Riley
Editorial Director

In a direct response to concerns about increased network costs resulting from more Australians working from home as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, NBN Co will waive charges for additional capacity of up to 40 per cent for retail service providers for at least three months.

The additional capacity applies to all fixed line, fixed wireless and satellite NBN technologies. From next Monday, NBN says it will give telecommunications retailers pricing relief for up for 40 per cent more Connectivity Virtual Circuit capacity as required to help meet demand at no extra cost.

NBN Co will set the the CVC usage charges applied in February 2020 as the baseline, waiving any additional changes for overage that would otherwise be incurred by RSPs.

Sydney traffic busy lights
NBN offers traffic relief for retail service providers

“We are closely following events unfolding in other parts of the world and we have taken decisive action to incrementally offer pricing relief for up to 40 per cent more capacity,” NBN Co chief executive Stephen Rue said in a statement.

“This is equivalent to the higher end of increased data bandwidth requirements that we have seen in countries such as Italy, which have mandated work from home arrangements,” he said.

“NBN Co will play the critical role it was set up to fulfil, ensuring Australia’s wholesale digital infrastructure is robust, resilient and reliable. We are confident that this immediate response will make a significant difference.

“We are also mindful that these are unprecedented times and remain vigilant to any unexpected market and usage changes. We will continue to work closely with retailers to support Australians during this time,” Mr Rue said.

Communications Minister Paul Fletcher welcomed the measures, saying it would help support productivity and connectivity in response to COVID-19, clearing the way for RSPs to meet the changing needs of their customers.

“The network has been accommodating increased traffic of five to six per cent in recent days,” Mr Fletcher said.

“NBN Co is confident in its ability to continue to manage and optimise its network with the expectation that it will see further traffic increases, in line with changes seen in other countries such as Italy,” he said.

Mr Fletcher said the NBN Co had been working with RSPs to management network requirements and is chairing an industry working group of key telecommunication network carriers to maintain network performance.

“NBN Co has experience managing periods of high traffic, particularly during school holidays, and has in place processes to utilise latent capacity in the network to respond to changing network conditions together with RSPs,” he said.

Writing in InnovationAus, shadow communications minister Michelle Rowland said the fixed line national network was demonstrating its true value during this COVID-19 crisis, and said the ability of the NBN to manage the usage surge was welcome.

On Monday Ms Rowland had called for temporary capacity pricing relief for the retail service providers and welcomed the NBN announcement.

“We should be confident the network will remain available and operational as the impact of COVID-19 tests our resolve in the weeks and months ahead,” Ms Rowland said.

“Objectively speaking, we have bigger issues to worry about. Whether the NBN will implode should not be one of them right now.”

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2 Comments
  1. Laurie Patton 5 months ago
    Reply

    Hey James

    This article misses a key point. This is a financial bail out for the telcos. Telstra had already announced unlimited data at no extra cost for its NBN customers.

    What this move doesn’t do is assist NBN customers with the inferior FTTN service. They will battle to interact online with their office – especially if they need to upload large files.

    The Coronavirus has further exposed the damage done from dumping a 21st Century broadband rollout.

    This crisis will likely persist for many months. So people will need to work from home for many months. It’s time to fix the NBN. The sooner this happens the sooner the 30 percent of the country stuck in a digital divide can hope for some relief.

    • Tim 5 months ago
      Reply

      Well said, Laurie. My university student daughter is now required to work online from our farm and has used half of our monthly NBN satellite download allowance in two days; it’s now being shaped. I hope NBN can alleviate this problem, otherwise lots of rural, regional and remote people are going to go without essential connectivity during this crisis.

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