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NBN mulling introducing 100/20Mbps plans

Most residential customers do not need 40Mbps of upload, NBN has said.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

As part of a consultation process over its wholesale pricing, the National Broadband Network (NBN) is mulling the introduction of 100/20Mbps plans.

At the 100Mbps speed tier, NBN currently offers 100/40Mbps plans.

"The new speed tier recognises that most residential customers download far more than they upload and a new product that prioritises download with an associated new wholesale bundle discount may help them to avoid paying a price premium for relatively high upload speeds that most customers do not use or require," the company said in a statement.

NBN is set to boost the amount of included Connectivity Virtual Circuit (CVC), a bandwidth constraint that the wholesaler uses to drive revenue, on its 100Mbps plans from 2.5Mbps to 3Mbps from September 2019. The company also said it would keep its existing dimension-based discounts in place until 30 June next year, to provide certainty as it consults.

The company responsible for deploying the NBN across Australia provided a consultation paper to 50 of its retailers, as well as some interest groups, asking for feedback on wholesale pricing and discounting arrangements that would increase the use of the NBN among "under-represented, price-sensitive" consumers. Highlighted as fitting this demographic were low-income and older Australians.

"As part of this process, we'll be balancing the economics of our wholesale pricing structure with the commercial imperatives of RSPs, and the very reasonable expectations of residential and business customers around product affordability and choice," NBN chief customer officer residential Brad Whitcomb said.

"We want to work with RSPs to find solutions to bring the benefits of high-speed broadband to more customers, particular those for whom price is a major consideration."

The consultation will also look at getting consumers onto higher speeds, boosting support for retailers, creating a schedule for further consultation, and "making it simple and easy for RSPs to do business with NBN Co", the government-owned wholesaler said.

According to the latest instalment of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Wholesale Market Indicators Report, to the end of March, more than half of all NBN customers are now on a 50Mbps plan, after the network crossed the threshold of having a majority of customers on 50Mbps and 100Mbps plans last quarter.

Between the December and March quarters, over 166,000 people moved off 12/1Mbps plans with the total dipping just below 1 million, while 220,000 more have 25/5Mbps plans taking the total to 1.14 million, and 336,000 premises now have 50Mbps plans that puts the most popular plan at 2.62 million customers.

"Although the number of consumers on [12Mbps] plans has dropped, they still account for a significant number of NBN users," ACCC chair Rod Sims said last month.

"We would be concerned if the options to acquire entry level plans declined, either through availability or higher prices. Indeed, we continue to have concerns about the impact of NBN pricing changes on affordability of entry level plans for those consumers who only require a basic service."

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