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Bandwidth purchased from NBN drops as pandemic capacity boost ends

ACCC calls on retailers to pay up and maintain CVC levels as NBN ends free bandwidth.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

The amount of bandwidth purchased from the company running the National Broadband Network dropped form 20.2Tbps down to 19.8Tbps over the quarter to December 31, according to numbers from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

In the latest edition of its NBN Wholesale Market Indicators Report, the average amount of CVC per connection fell from 2.59Mbps to 2.44Mbps. The largest drop was in Victoria where capacity plummeted 11% from 5.6Tbps in the prior quarter to 4.98Tbps. The Australian Capital Territory saw a 7% drop in bandwidth, while Western Australia and the Northern Territory had 4% less capacity by the end of 2020, and Tasmania saw a 3% drop.

Heading in the other direction was New South Wales with a 4% increase to 6.4Tbps and South Australia with a 2% increase. Queensland was only slightly up from 4.05Tbps to 4.07Tbps.

The lower bandwidth was expected as NBN began tapering off its 40% free capacity boost to retailers due to the coronavirus pandemic during the quarter.

Compared to the same quarter a year prior, NBN was selling 12.7Tbps of capacity, which meant bandwidth increased by 56% over 2020.

Nevertheless, the ACCC said it was now up to retailers to cough up the difference.

"NBN's temporary COVID-19 CVC boost offer has expired, so it's important that retail service providers provide sufficient CVC capacity for consumers to continue to receive the speeds they are paying for, particularly during periods of high demand," ACCC chair Rod Sims said.

Over the quarter, NBN saw almost over 590,000 premises take up its 100/20Mbps Home Fast plan as the total number now sits at nearly 742,000 connections. Also seeing increases in the number of premises connected were 25/10Mbps plans, which saw a 56,525 boost in numbers to 92,000, and the 25/5Mbps plan that gained 26,650 new additions to take its total to 1.28 million connections.

Plans with numbers headed in the other direction were the slowest 12/1Mbps plan, which now has 1.05 million connections thanks to a 41,600 drop; the most popular 50/20Mbps plan, which saw 298,000 premises drop off to result in only having 4.2 million connections in total; while 63,600 fewer premises were connected to 100/40Mbps plans, leaving it with 718,000 connections.

At the higher end of its speed offering, the 250/25Mbps Home Superfast plan recorded over 11,000 connections with 6,000 additions being made in the quarter, and 2,670 premises took up the 500-1,000/50Mbps Home Ultrafast with just shy of 10,000 premises around the country using it.

The vast majority of customers on plans above 250Mbps are with Aussie Broadband.

Earlier this week, Aussie Broadband reported a revenue spike of 89% to AU$157 million for the six months to December 31, thanks to the addition of 81,000 customers to its network.

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