Wholesale bundles boosting speed uptake and customer experience

At NBN Co, we know how important it is to get the right mix between delivering a quality broadband experience at the right price.

Striking that balance is about doing our part to provide the best customer experience we can to the millions of Australians connected to the nbn™ broadband access network, as well as helping internet providers to remain competitive and successful in the future.

That’s why, late last year, we announced a major shake-up to our wholesale pricing through new discount bundles and the launch of a promotional wholesale discount: ‘Focus on 50’. Our aim was to improve the experiences of customers who connect to the nbn™ access network.

These changes have exceeded our expectations, with more than 2.1 million homes (almost half of our customer base on the nbn™ access network) now using plans based on higher wholesale speed tiers,^ which is almost triple the amount we had this time last year.

At the same time, we have seen the average network bandwidth congestion per week, per customer across the network reduce from almost five hours a year ago, to just above one hour (on average) in August 2018 (excluding Sky Muster™ satellite).*

To put that in perspective, a year ago customers with services that had heavy bandwidth congestion could have experienced regular buffering and dropouts, compared to customers with minimal congestion who may have only experienced occasional buffering during the busy evening periods.

Working with the industry to transition to our pricing discounts

While there were record low levels of bandwidth congestion experienced on the network earlier this year, we do expect these levels to fluctuate as our promotional discount ends (31 October) and as we help service providers adopt our new wholesale discount bundles.

To ensure this process runs as smoothly as possible, we have put in place support and resources to help internet providers adjust to the new billing solutions and changes to IT systems. These aren’t things that affect consumers directly, but they need to be carefully managed with the industry to minimise disruption.

Our team has built bulk migration tools to help internet providers shift large volumes of customers to the new bundle discounts. A dedicated team will be on standby to provide support should internet providers need it. We will also continue to monitor congestion levels and work with internet providers on how they can help improve the experience for Australians during the busy period (7pm to 11pm).

We recognise the varying market needs and that some internet providers prefer our existing pricing instead of the discount bundles. For that reason, our existing pricing structure will still remain as an option for retailers.

NBN Co doesn’t set retail prices or products – this means it is up to internet providers to pick the most suitable pricing option and provision the amount of bandwidth they deem suitable for their customers.

We know that both our standard and bundle products can deliver a great customer experience for Australians if internet providers purchase enough bandwidth on the nbn™ access network and people have ordered the right retail plan for their usage.

Evolving our wholesale bundle discounts

Although faster speeds matter for many, we want to reiterate our commitment to deliver a broadband network that suits a range of different users. This week, we launched a new wholesale entry-level bundle discount designed for residential voice-only and basic-broadband users.

This product will help provide access to basic broadband and telephone services for those who require these services, particularly as the existing phone and internet networks are switched off and replaced by the nbn™ access network. Together with our other high-speed bundle discounts, the entry-level bundle will provide a range of choice and flexibility for internet providers to sell retail plans for different broadband users.

We have also introduced wholesale bundle discount options for our nbn™ Fixed Wireless access technology, which provide guaranteed bandwidth and wholesale access speeds at the same price as our nbn™ Fixed Line bundle options.

Our team recognises there is more work to be done to deliver improved services on Fixed Wireless technology and is also undertaking consultation with phone and internet providers on a new wholesale Fixed Wireless Plus product. This aims to better align to the capability of the nbn™ Fixed Wireless network to enable us to maximise network capacity at the same discount price for internet providers as the current Fixed Wireless discount bundles.

Continued education on the factors that influence broadband speeds

As the industry makes the transition to a range of new wholesale pricing discounts, we are continuing to educate Australians about the factors that can influence their broadband speeds and some of the questions they need to ask their respective internet providers.

We recently launched a new national information campaign, advising Australians to:

Check – their internet usage habits and the number of devices connected during peak usage times (between 7pm and 11pm);

Select – the right speed plan for their household’s needs with an internet provider;

Connect – the right Wi-Fi router/modem in the right place and contact their internet provider to get help with any further in-home setup.

Consumers should speak with their internet provider about what broadband speeds they can expect during the busy evening hours and if the plan they are on suits their online needs. It’s also important Australians shop around to ensure they are getting the best deal to suit their needs and price point.

Our team remains focused on putting customer experience at the heart of everything we do. We also believe the shift to these new bundle discounts is another step closer to doing our part to provide value, service and connectivity across Australia.

We know the transition will be an industry-wide transformation and are confident we can work collaboratively to overcome challenges in order to help deliver the great experience we know the nbn™ access network can provide.

^NBN Co provides services to our wholesale customers (phone and internet providers). nbn™ wholesale speed tiers available to your phone and internet provider vary depending on the access technology in your area. Your experience, including the speeds actually achieved over the nbn™ access network, depends on the nbn™ access network technology and configuration over which services are delivered to your premises, whether you are using the internet during the busy period (7pm to 11pm), and some factors outside our control (like your equipment quality, software, broadband plan, signal reception and how your service provider designs its network). Speeds may be impacted by network congestion on the nbn™ Fixed Wireless network, including during busy period. Sky Muster™ satellite end users may experience latency.
* This is calculated across all bandwidth purchased by every phone and internet provider across the entire network (CVC congestion). Please note that while bandwidth congestion is caused by the level of provisioning of capacity by the phone and internet provider, there are also other types of congestion that may occur on the nbn™ access network.