Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: Coronavirus: Business and technology in a pandemic

NBN extends free 40% capacity boost until end of July

Peak download throughput has dropped off after an early April surge.

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Image: NBN

The company responsible for deploying the National Broadband Network (NBN) across Australia has announced it would extend its free CVC boost to retailers until the end of July.

In mid-March, NBN said as a response to the coronavirus pandemic that ISPs would be able to increase the amount of capacity they purchase by 40% at no additional charge.

Calculations on capacity usage relied on data from February as a baseline.

A week later, NBN said in late March it was giving its regular satellite users a 45GB boost.

NBN then said on Thursday it would extend that offer until the end of July.

"We are extending these offers by another two billing periods because we know how crucial it is for the nation to have access to reliable and fast broadband services as Australians continue to work, study, and be entertained at home," NBN chief customer officer for residential Brad Whitcomb said.

NBN also highlighted its network usage statistics, which showed peak throughput had eased off since the second week of April.

Peak downstream throughput across measurements made by NBN for three time periods -- business hours from 8am to 5pm, early evening hours from 5pm to 8pm, and evening busy hours from 8pm to 11pm -- trended downward in recent weeks.

The company experienced its busiest traffic day on April 8, which coincided with an update to Call of Duty. Post 8pm speeds topped out at 13.8Tbps, peak early evening traffic was 13.3Tbps, and peak business hour throughput was 11.6Tbps.

For the week of April 20 to April 26, post 8pm speeds reached 12.5Tbps, early evening traffic hit 11.5Tbps, and thoughput peaked at 11.5Tbps during business hours.

The story for upstream throughput is much different however, with all three time periods sitting in a band between 1.02Tbps and 1Tbps. Upstream throughput for business hours is now at 101% of pre-coronavirus levels to 1Tbps and has been consistently at this level; throughput for early evening is up 48% to 1.01Tbps; and post 8pm peak throughput increased on the February baseline by 32% to 1.02Tbps. 

During the April 6 to April 12 week, post 8pm peak upstream throughput was 38% higher at 1.06Tbps.

"These metrics show that while broadband use has significantly increased during this pandemic, we have also seen network demand settle into a new range where usage remains at higher levels throughout the day, compared to the pre COVID-19 baseline," Whitcomb said.

"We are seeing increased demand for higher speeds as customers reassess their demands during social isolation and make sure they have the broadband service to support it."