NBN pricing changes saw ISPs shift wholesale plans from 25Mbps to 12Mbps

TPG and Vocus are the only major telcos to see a decline in 25Mbps while increasing 12Mbps connections.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

The purple 12/1Mbps is creeping up again.

Image: ACCC

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) released its latest quarterly Wholesale Market Indicators Report on Thursday and it showed how the reported plans are impacted by price.

At the end of November, NBN announced the outcome of its pricing review, which saw the addition of 100/20, 250/25, and 1000/50Mbps speed tiers, allowing retailers to pool unused CVC on a national basis. It also decided to add an allowance for TCP/IP headers above its layer 2 remit.

"The ACCC is aware that access seekers shifted a large number of wholesale services from the 25Mbps tier to the 12Mbps tier during the quarter, following changes to NBN wholesale pricing," the ACCC said on Thursday.

"Under NBN Co's previous wholesale pricing offers, some service providers were using 25Mbps bundled wholesale services to supply 12Mbps plans to some of their retail customers."

In its latest report, the ACCC said there were 167,700 extra 12/1Mbps connections across NBN's fixed-line footprint in the quarter to December 31, while 112,301 25/5Mps connections disappeared.

Broken down by telco, the report said TPG had 97,500 less 25Mbps users and an increase of 133,000 12/1Mbps connections compared to the previous quarter. Vocus followed suit and had a reduction of 49,000 25Mbps users and an additional 27,000 12/1Mbps users. Collectively, the pair were responsible for 140,700 extra 12/1 users out of a total of 159,250 additions.

At the same time though, the report said an additional 320,650 connections on a 50/20Mbps plan were made, and 32,150 extra 100/40Mbps connections were added.

Despite the shifting between 25/5Mbps and 12/1Mbps plans at a wholesale level, this was outweighed by additions at the 50Mbps tier and above.

Proportionally, fibre to the curb (FttC) has the most users on plans faster than 50Mbps, at 74%, followed by HFC connections at 72.5%, fibre to the premises (FttP) with 70%, fibre to the basement (FttB) with 67%, and fibre to the node (FttN) at 65%.

During the quarter, NBN connected 232,000 additional HFC premises, 83,000 FttC premises, 58,800 FttN premises, and 23,100 premises with an FttP connection. The total number of premises connected increased by 415,300 to 6.6 million, with 2.8 million being connected to FttN, and HFC and FttP sitting on 1.4 million.

Shadow Communications Minister Michelle Rowland said in October 2018 that the NBN was shifting to an economic battle, not a technological one.

"The NBN rollout has also reached a point where it is almost entirely in design, construction, or deployed -- a reality which cannot be undone through political will or legislative change," Rowland said almost 18 months ago.

"As a result, there is likely to be less emphasis on the issues which have been the focal point for the last five years, and a greater focus on the medium-term policy settings -- namely, the economics of the NBN.

"Looking forward, this becomes the main game ... it would be sensible for the major parties to identify common ground on the next steps where feasible to do so."

Overall, the ACCC said had seen an increase in average CVC bandwidth from 1.80Mbps to 1.92Mbps for the quarter across the entire network.

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