The ACCC, in its most recent quarterly report, says that of the almost 4.5 million residents that have an NBN broadband connection at home, almost half of them are on fast plans with speeds of 50Mbps or more. That’s a ten-fold increase on the proportion of users on fast plans at the end of 2017.
The ACCC’s report for the September 2018 quarter shows that more than 2.2 million consumers are now on high-speed plans, up 20% on the previous quarter and ten times more than December 2017. The ACCC says this reflects NBN Co’s pricing strategies to encourage Retail Service Providers (RSPs) and their customers to higher speed plans. But they also say its advertising speed guidance project is part of the drive behind the shift.
“The NBN Co’s Focus on 50 promotion has demonstrated that RSPs and their customers are willing to move to higher speed plans if the incentives are right,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.
Consumers on 12/1 plans still represent more than a quarter of all NBN services showing there is a significant cohort of consumers for an affordable and reliable service without a thirst for lots of speed.
The average CVC (Connectivity Virtual Circuit) per user is also up. It was 1.66Mbps in June 2018 and reached 1.71Mbps in September 2018. In March 2017 it was 1.00Mbps. CVC capacity is a measure of how much bandwidth is allocated per user on an RSP service.
“It is important RSPs maintain sufficient CVC capacity to ensure consumers get the service they have paid for, particularly in the busy period,” Mr Sims said.
The ACCC says it will continue to monitor CVC utilisation under its record-keeping powers and rank RSPs by whether they are providing the speeds expected by consumers.
As we’ve said many times, the NBN project has been dogged by political and infrastructure challenges. But things do seem to have settled down on those scores. The delay in deploying services over the old Telstra HFC network seems to resolved and installation quality is improving (not withstanding things like this). But the political statements about how much bandwidth we’d really need and the gap between what the network is delivering and what we were promised back when the project was proposed and started with the previous Labor government may yet come back to bite.
It’s likely some areas will need to be revisited in order to deliver Gigabit speeds in future. But, by then, the initial project will be over and those will be seen as upgrades – even though many would argue they should have been done during the rollout that’s scheduled to end in 2020.