NBN stumps up AU$5.2 million in credit for July lockdowns

Lockdowns have led to increased data consumption, but NBN's previous 40% capacity boost provided to retailers in 2020 will not be returning.

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The company responsible for the National Broadband Network said on Thursday it would provide AU$5.2 million in the form of a "COVID-19 relief credit payment" to cover overage charges due to bandwidth spikes caused by lockdowns in New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia.

NBN said the credit would cover July and be allocated on each retailers' share of total national overage. It added it would waive charges for ISPs breaching CVC utilisation conditions for the final week of July. The company reiterated it was still introducing its Superfast Plus rebate to lower the price to get users onto 250Mbps and 1Gbps plans.

After lockdowns were imposed in NSW and Victoria, NBN said it saw peak bandwidth of almost 20.4Tbps on the Saturday night of July 17, which represented an 8% increase on the week prior. On July 24, NBN said it saw bandwidth top out at 19.93Tbps.

The company took the opportunity to also bat away ideas to reinstate the CVC holiday for retailers introduced last year.

"NBN Co's previous offer of additional capacity at no additional costs to internet retailers, which was in market from March 2020 and transitioned out by 31 January 2021, was originally intended as a short-term measure to assist retailers' adjustment to the initial increase in customers' data consumption at the onset of COVID restrictions," NBN executive general manager for commercial Ken Walliss said.

"It was the right thing to do at the time, but it came at a cost, some of which was borne by taxpayers. If this had continued, it would have potentially impacted NBN Co's ability to invest in network upgrades to deliver faster speeds and additional capacity to meet the historical annual growth in data demand."

The company pointed to higher CVC inclusions, the ability to nationally pool CVC, and its current pricing and Special Access Undertaking processes as ways it was supporting the industry.

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