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

NBN research shows 8 in 10 agree fast broadband helped with job productivity

Network demand volumes increased by up to 70% during business hours after social distancing measures were enforced on March 1.

Research released by the company responsible for deploying the National Broadband Network (NBN) has revealed how 83% of respondents said they could not have completed their jobs without access to fast broadband.

The Behaviour Change survey, conducted by Venture Insights and commissioned by NBN in April, investigated Australians' internet usage habits before and during social distancing to understand how internet consumption needs were changing behaviours and how it would look like once the restrictions are lifted.

NBN also cited that network demand over the NBN network experienced increases of up to 70% in business hours traffic volumes since social distancing measures were implemented on March 1.

Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts Paul Fletcher welcomed the findings, pointing to how the research highlights the benefits of the NBN.

"The network has stood up to considerable increases in demand with downloads soaring up to 70% during work hours since social distancing requirements came into effect," he said.

"Thanks to the NBN, Australians have been able to keep working productively from home and stay connected with their colleagues, clients and stakeholders."

See also: How to create work-life balance for your teams, and why you should (TechRepublic)

Further, the research found 81% of respondents working from home during the COVID-19 crisis has positively changed the way they think about work-life balance. 67% of those surveyed said they expect to continue to work from home after the COVID-19 crisis has ended. Of those, 69% were from metro areas while those living in regional areas made up 54%.  

The research also revealed how 69% of respondents have purchased one or more devices to support their online activities, with 56% of people working from home having created a new or dedicated office space.

"The research shows people are interested in making remote work part of a longer-term lifestyle change -- they're setting up home offices and reporting working from home provides better work-life balance. This demonstrates the critical role the NBN has played and will continue to play in supporting Australians' productivity, social and connectivity needs," Fletcher said.

Last week, a report released by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) which looked at the performance of the NBN between February and April showed that the NBN slowed towards the tail end of March, but picked back up again in April.

From the start of coronavirus lockdowns in mid-March, during busy hours, users on 50Mbps and 100Mbps plans experienced drops of up to 14% and 23%, respectively. Users on 25Mbps plan were only hit with a 5% degradation in busy hours.

Across April, 100Mbps users saw degradation of up to 5% in busy hours, with the other two plans only impacted by a couple of percent.

The ACCC pinned the April improvement on the 40% capacity boost that NBN offered retailers.

NBN extended its offer until the end of July, and has also noted it experiences peak traffic when there are major game updates, such as a Call of Duty update on April 8 that resulted in a 13.8Tbps peak.

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