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NBN has 45,000 premises on new Home plans: ACCC

Over 4,600 people have signed up for a Home Ultrafast plan that might get 1Gbps.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

Since launching its new 100/20, 250/25, and 500-1,000/50Mbps speed tiers in May, in the intervening month, NBN retailers were able to get 45,000 customers onto the new plans, according to figures released by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) on Thursday.

Over 38,000 premises took on the lowest tier of the new plans -- 100/20Mbps, dubbed as Home Fast -- which consisted of over 10,000 on HFC, over 9,400 premises having fibre to the premises (FttP), fibre to the curb (FttC) contributed over 8,330 premises, fibre to the node (FttN) accounted for 7,770 premises, and premises with fibre to the basement (FttB) made up just over 2,000.

For the higher pair of plans, only premises with FttP or HFC are eligible to make the switch. Home Superfast, which is 250/25Mbps, has just over 2,000 premises, with HFC making up 1,535 of that number. For the fastest plan, Home Ultrafast, that sees customers officially get a download speed between 500Mbps-1,000Mbps, FttP accounted for 4,427 premises with the added benefit of the technology being capable of 1Gbps. For HFC, where NBN has said the plan is only available on an initial 7% of its footprint, 220 hardy souls took the plunge.

The ACCC Wholesale Market Indicators Report said all but 400 of the Ultrafast customers were with Aussie Broadband, which jumped quickly onto offering the new plans.

"We think that the plan should achieve off-peak speeds of up to 80-90%, depending on the technology type," Aussie Broadband managing director Phil Britt said in May.

The company also added 50 pure 1000/400Mbps plan customers in the quarter to June 30.

Over the period, the number of activated connections on the NBN increased by 5.4% to 7.4 million, and with purchased capacity lagging behind with a 3.5% increase to 18.4Tbps, the average capacity per user decreased 1.8% to 2.5Mbps.

In the previous quarter, the report CVC usage had jumped by 40% and average CVC per user had increased by 31%.

The CVC spike arrived after NBN offered a free 40% capacity boost for retailers to handle with pandemic-induced traffic increases.

See also: ACCC report and COVID-19 highlight how CVC is an artificial handbrake on the NBN

NBN has extended the CVC holiday until September 19, but it has warned that this will be the final extension.

The government-owned broadband wholesaler has faced criticism for wanting to return to regular pricing once the CVC holiday passed, with Britt saying in July that traffic patterns of Australians have changed.

"NBN's extra 40% CVC bandwidth to cope with peak demand during COVID certainly cushioned the impact, but once it's gone, we don't believe traffic levels will return to original forecasts," Britt said at the time. "Given that telcos pay overage for CVC usage above the amount bundled into their NBN wholesale products, this puts them in a difficult situation.

"They will either need to raise retail prices to keep the service levels the same in peak time speeds, or lower peak time speeds to maintain at least some level of margin -- which is almost non-existent as is."

Speaking on Thursday while handing down Telstra's full-year results, CEO Andy Penn said the profitability of reselling NBN products was barely there.

"NBN wholesale pricing remains the largest negative impact on our fixed business," Penn said.

"Without some sort of long-term change leading to improvement in RSP economics, the risk of retail price increases, reduced customer experience or customers moving onto other networks such as 5G will increase.

"In Telstra's case, the profitability of reselling the NBN is negligible at best -- that is not sustainable."

Across the NBN for the quarter to June 30, an extra 80,000 25/5Mbps connections were activated, an extra 2,000 premises opted for 25/10Mbps, over 255,000 jumped onto a 50/20Mbps plan, and 43,500 opted for a 100/40Mbps plan.

79 premises dropped off 250/100Mbps plans, while 64 customers went for 500/200Mbps connections.

NBN reported its full-year earnings on Tuesday, with revenue growing by 36% to AU$3.8 billion and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortisation halving last year's loss to be AU$648 million in the hole for the year to the end of June.

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