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NBN moves coronavirus CVC boost cut off date to August 19

Throughput on network begins to die down as people return to offices and school.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor
Image: NBN

The company responsible for deploying the National Broadband Network (NBN) across Australia announced on Thursday it was moving the cut off date for its coronavirus-related capacity boost to August 19.

In mid-March, NBN said ISPs would be able to increase the amount of capacity they purchase by 40% at no additional charge. At the end of April, NBN said it had extended that offer until the end of July.

Calculations on capacity usage relied on data from February as a baseline.

A week after the initial CVC boost announcement, NBN also said it was giving its regular satellite users a 45GB boost. For those users, the new cut off date is the end of August.

NBN added it would wind down the offer as data volumes on its network will begin to ease from highs experienced across March and April.

"In recent weeks we have seen data demand on NBN's main wholesale network settle into a new normal as more Australians head back to work and school. Since the start of March, NBN has added over 400,000 new connections and there has been three months of normal usage growth," NBN chief customer officer for residential Brad Whitcomb said.

"Just as it is important that the nation, businesses and schools get back to a more normal way of life, it is important that internet providers also have the certainty they need to get back to their usual operations."

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

Last month, an Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) report showed total capacity purchased on the NBN had grown 40% to 17.8Tbps, while the average capacity per user grew 31% to 2.5Mbps. The figures from the ACCC were as of the end of March, while NBN offered its 40% capacity boost only seven days before the end of the month.

At the time, Shadow Communications Minister Michelle Rowland raised the prospect of what could once the CVC boost is taken away.

"The question from here is how do we transition CVC pricing to a new normal in a fair and economically responsible way?" she said. "Hastily undoing the capacity boost would be problematic given this could force up prices or lead to congestion.

"For this reason, Labor would prefer to see a considered transition of NBN capacity pricing in consultation with retail providers, informed by traffic trends as COVID-19 restrictions wind down."

On Thursday, NBN pointed to its recent wholesale pricing changes, that came into force last week, as being helpful during the CVC wind down, which include national CVC pooling and higher bandwidth inclusions.

Last week, the government-owned wholesaler said it had seen a new record of peak throughput on its network, recording 14.5Tbps on May 19. Once again, the traffic was driven by a Call of Duty update.

For this week, that number dropped to 11Tbps.

NBN also announced on Thursday it had reached 100,000 customers on its Sky Muster satellite service.  

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