Almost half of NBN users now on 50Mbps or higher plans: ACCC

More than half of all NBN customers on FttP, FttN, FttC, and HFC connections are now on the highest two plans widely available.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor
(Image: ACCC)

The latest Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) quarterly Wholesale Market Indicators Report has revealed the continuing shift of users on the National Broadband Network (NBN) to plans with speeds greater than 50Mbps.

In the three months to September 30, more than 70,000 25Mbps plans have been dropped, and 383,000 50Mbps plans have been taken up. At the same time, over 6,000 100Mbps plans were abandoned by customers, and over 50,000 12Mbps plans were taken up. In total, 355,000 customers joined the network in the quarter.

Of the fixed-line technologies, fibre-to-the-premises (FttP), fibre-to-the-node (FttN), fibre-to-the-curb (FttC), and hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) all have a majority of customers on speeds at or above 50Mbps, with the latest technology added to NBN's arsenal, FttC, clocking in with almost three quarters of customers choosing 50Mbps or 100Mbps plans.

The ACCC said a total of 2.23 million Australians now use the faster plans, an increase of 20 percent on the last report, and is a result of NBN's pricing discounts.

"The NBN Co's Focus on 50 promotion has demonstrated that RSPs and their customers are willing to move to higher-speed plans if the incentives are right," ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.

"We expect these incentives will continue to operate as NBN Co transitions to longer-term bundled pricing for the higher-speed plans."

Sims added that one quarter of all customers were still on a 12Mbps plan, and retailers need to maintain capacity during busy periods.

The amount of bandwidth in the network, as measured by connectivity virtual circuit (CVC) charged by NBN, continued its increase and now sits at 1.71Mbps per user, compared to a paltry 1Mbps in March 2017.

Although NBN's discounting has shifted customers to higher plans, Aussie Broadband has warned that smaller retail service providers will have to choose between offering high- or low-speed tiers, as they won't be able to do both as those discounts end.

"Aussie has chosen to play in the higher end of the market using the new bundled offering exclusively, as it provides sufficient CVC capacity to ensure a good experience for customers," Aussie Broadband MD Phillip Britt told ZDNet last month.

"In our view, it will not be possible for providers offering a service under AU$55 a month floor price and an unlimited offering under AU$69 using the bundles.

"Providers below this price point will most likely be short-changing their customers on the CVC bandwidth provisioned."

NBN's discounted pricing finished at the end of October.

Earlier this week, NBN announced that it will be offering bigger wholesale data allowances for satellite customers, with usage across email, web browsing, internet banking, and critical software updates no longer counting towards monthly data caps.

The Sky Muster Plus plans will be made available in 2019 for "eligible users", and will include burst speeds beyond 25Mbps when network support and applications enable it.

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