Telstra to move NBN customers one tier behind prime minister

More than 850,000 customers to be moved to Telstra's new standard speed.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

Telstra is set to increase the speeds available to a number of its NBN customers, with the telco announcing on Thursday more than 850,000 of its home and small business customers will be moved to its 50Mbps plan.

The dominant Australian telco also said new customers purchasing NBN bundles worth more than AU$79 a month would be put onto the 50Mbps tier.

Under the confusing new ACCC-mandated NBN plan labelling system, Telstra's 50Mbps plan is called "Standard Plus". According to figures on Telstra's site, that plan delivers 40Mbps during peak times, and 45Mbps outside it.

"As the popularity of streaming content like Foxtel Now and Netflix continues to grow, we're seeing data on our fixed network increase by about 40 percent each year," Jana Kotatko, head of Fixed Products at Telstra, said.

"With increased speeds, our customers will have the freedom to stream in 4K or HD on multiple devices without buffering or interruptions."

Also read: Telstra CEO at MWC: 5G race more than a flag in the ground

Earlier this week, most of the Labor party and its base lost their collective minds when it was revealed Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's mansion in Point Piper and the official residence of the prime minister in Sydney, Kirribilli House, had been hooked up to the NBN, and were on 100/40Mbps plans.

With Telstra's move today, almost 1 million Australians will be only one speed tier below the commonly available top of the line plan purchased by the government.

ZDNet has asked the government why it is connecting to the NBN, and not using dedicated lines at the official premises, and whether official business will be conducted on the NBN lines installed.

Along with a faster default tier, Telstra added it would also be throwing in a smart modem with 4G backup for all new customers of a home internet bundle, existing customers that move house, and customers that move onto the NBN.

"When customers move to the NBN there can sometimes be a period of downtime while the switchover occurs. Being able to stay connected over the mobile network during this time will greatly improve the experience for our customers making the transition to the new network," Kotatko said.

In November, Telstra said it had automated the handling of the allocation and purchasing of its NBN capacity on a weekly basis.

Speaking at Telstra Investor Day, Telstra director of networks Mike Wright said the company has known for 19 months how much bandwidth users are receiving.

"Every week we're measuring the traffic on the CVC [connectivity virtual circuit] interfaces, we're applying our own statistical analysis to it, and working out what we need to buy for the next week. That goes into the network that week, and next week we do the same process," he said at the time.

"What we have done is by putting robots inside the gateways, and some physical robots, we can now measure the experience end-to-end.

"We already know from the test we've done, that we are delivering at least or better than the standards that the ACCC have defined for customer experience."

Following a lowering of the capacity charge levied by the company responsible for deploying the National Broadband Network across Australia, retail service providers have been purchasing more CVC capacity.

According to the ACCC statistics released earlier this month, the average NBN CVC bought by retailers per user increased from 1.11Mbps to 1.53Mbps, with NBN contracted to supply 5,385Gbps of CVC capacity by the end of December, an increase from 3,452Gbps at the end of September.

"NBN Co's response to retailers' concerns about CVC pricing seems to have had an impact on the amount of CVC being acquired, which we believe will benefit consumers through better quality broadband," ACCC chair Rod Sims said at the time.

The stats showed Telstra retains its dominance, holding 49.3 percent of all NBN services, and 54 percent of services were on the 25Mbps speed

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