NBN Co Wants to Turn Your NBN 100 Plan into NBN 500

NBN Co Wants to Turn Your NBN 100 Plan into NBN 500

NBN Co has released a new proposal for its Australia-wide network, and it includes something that makes my eyes want to bulge out of my skull: an upgrade for ‘Home Fast’ NBN 100 plans to make them capable of 500Mbps speeds at no extra cost to retailers.

Holy heck, yes please.

The company, which manages the NBN, says that it will only work on homes with HFC or are fitted with fibre (FTTP), which makes sense given that NBN 250 and NBN 1000 plans are currently only available to such eligible addresses – 500Mbps is a bit difficult for copper-heavy homes serviced by FTTC and FTTN to handle. Don’t fret, though – you may be eligible to upgrade your home internet to access these speeds (and NBN Co is looking to relax the requirements for the upgrade).

500mbps NBN: What’s actually changing under this proposal?

To underscore how big a jump from 100Mbps to 500Mbps would be for you, on a standard ‘Home Fast’ NBN 100 plan, the company used a Fortnite patch as an example – about 25GB. At current speeds, this would take around 36 minutes to apply. On the proposed speeds, it could be installed in as quick as seven minutes – or even down to five minutes on faster-proposed plan changes.

Average household data consumption over the nbn network in Australia. Graph: NBN Co

Within the same proposal, the company said that it wants to increase the speed of its ‘Home Superfast’ 250/25 (download/upload) plan to up to 750/50 speeds, and increase ‘Home Ultrafast’ 500-1000/50 plan to 750-1000/50-100.

“The average household now consumes 443 gigabytes per month across 22 internet-connected devices. We predict that average will grow to 33 connected devices by 2026 and 40 by the end of the decade,” Chief Customer Officer at NBN Co Anna Perrin said.

“Yet despite this explosion in data usage, many customers have remained on the same broadband plan for years. Our network monitoring suggests that some customers are potentially hitting their maximum speed on a regular basis. These customers may enjoy a better internet experience on a faster speed tier.”

Naturally, these changes would come in to accommodate modern internet usage. Our engagement with media, be it news, streaming, gaming, social media, or broadly anything entertainment-wise, is quite dependent on our internet access – and that’s without considering the needs we have for online access when we’re working from home.

The company estimates that nine million homes would see the benefit of the upgraded speed tiers by December 2024 and potentially up to 10.2 million by December 2025.

What do retailers think?

NBN Co wants to increase the faster speeds within the next year. An industry consultation paper has been released, with the company seeking retailer input (for example, from the likes of Telstra and TPG). The consultation paper closed earlier this month.

“At Aussie we’re incredibly proud of the great investments in our retail network to improve the experience for customers adopting FTTP, and NBN Co’s announcement has made that early investment all the more essential as Australians take the next step into a high-speed future. It’s essential, however, that these announcements are paired with more investment in fixed broadband for regional Australians so the digital inclusion gap isn’t widened further,” Aussie Broadband Group managing director Phillip Britt said in a statement.

“While Aussie has a very strong share of the Fibre Connect market we still need to understand what impacts this will have for competition. By switching customers over at the wholesale level, smaller RSPs may miss out on the opportunity to compete for those customers which could harm retail-side innovation in the Australian broadband market.”

That’s actually a really good point – switching from 100Mbps to 500Mbps is a huge jump, and what we’re talking about here is a complete shakeup of the speed packages NBN offers, not the addition of speed packages that retailers like Aussie can offer. As far as competition goes, though, it just bumps up the speed of a product, while not providing any further plan opportunities for competition.

TPG Telecom has also weighed in with a statement. “Enabling faster download speeds for NBN customers is a positive opportunity for those who can access it. However, we must not overlook customers who cannot afford pricier, high-speed NBN plans, or the associated costs of upgrading equipment to take full advantage of these new speeds,” a TPG Telecom spokesperson said. “If NBN was genuine about addressing affordability and high-speed access for all Australians, it would extend these benefits to the 70 per cent of NBN customers on its entry-level 12, 25, and 50Mbps plans. In this cost-of-living crisis, it would be disappointing if only those with the financial means to access high-speed NBN plans reaped the benefits of these upgrades.”

Optus has also provided Gizmodo Australia with a statement. “We welcome NBN’s move to improve customers’ access to higher speeds,” Optus vice president of government and regulatory affairs Andrew Sheridan said. “This proposal is something Optus has long called for and is consistent with our focus on improving the connectivity experience for all Australians in this rapidly evolving digital world. We look forward to working with the NBN to understand how these higher speed tiers can be delivered to all households.”

And finally, Telstra has also weighed in with a comment. “We are always supportive of any initiative that provides an improved experience for our customers. We look forward to further discussions with NBN Co during the consultation period as we assess the impact on Telstra and our customers,” a Telstra spokesperson said.

Image: NBN Co

This article has been updated since it was originally published.

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