More than a million Australians have opted for increased NBN plan speeds

Alex Kidman 16 April 2018 NEWS

NBN Co's price cuts have led to a speed boom, but congestion is slowly increasing according to its March 2018 report.

NBN Co has released its March 2018 progress report, highlighting the quantity of consumers now opting for higher speed plans on the national broadband network. According to its March 2018 report, more than a million Australians have opted for higher speed NBN plans in the last four months.

In connection terms, not surprisingly, NBN Co is on an upwards swing. Here's how the numbers stack up over the last 12 months according to its March 2018 report:

Measure Description March 2017 September 2017 December 2017 February 2018 March 2018
Homes and businesses ready-to-connect The number of homes and businesses that can connect to a plan over the nbn access network by ordering via a phone and internet provider. 4,500,000 6,100,000 6,100,000 6,300,000 6,500,000
Homes and businesses connected The number of homes and businesses that can connect to a plan over the nbn access network by ordering via a phone and internet provider. 2,000,000 3,000,000 3,400,000 3,600,000 3,700,000

That does mean that NBN Co is connecting homes faster than consumers are actually taking them up since it kicked off its monthly reporting scheme. Typically you do have 18 months to connect before the existing ADSL infrastructure is decommissioned in your area.

Issues around getting those connections off the ground have been a constant pain point for both NBN Co and consumers, and here it's largely holding steady for time, but slipping just a little for getting it right the first time:

Measure Description March 2017 September 2017 December 2017 February 2018 March 2018
Right first time installations The percentage of homes and businesses that have their nbn equipment installed without additional work from NBN Co the first time the installation is attempted. 85% 86% 86% 89% 87%
Meeting agreed installation times The percentage of homes and businesses that NBN Co connects to the nbn access network within timeframes agreed with phone and internet providers. 88% 92% 94% 92% 92%

Congestion on the network was a factor that NBN Co highlighted in its February 2018 report, having pushed it down to just 12 minutes. It has jumped up a touch in straight time terms:

Measure Description March 2017 September 2017 December 2017 February 2018 March 2018
Average network bandwidth congestion The average number of minutes of bandwidth congestion per week per service calculated across all phone and internet providers across the whole network excluding nbn Sky Muster services. 415 (6 hours & 55 minutes) 256 (4 hours & 16 minutes) 90 (1 hour & 30 minutes) 12 minutes 18 minutes
Fixed-line network congestion The estimated monthly average percentage of homes and businesses who experience nbn access network congestion. 0.37% 0.11% 0.10% 0.12% 0.07%

Those figures notably don't include Sky Muster satellite connections, so presumably either fixed wireless customers are getting a lot more congestion, or it's just that fewer individual premises are experiencing more actual congestion overall.

Again, it's a useful reminder that these are figures that represent the experiences across the entire network, not with individual providers. NBN Co has previously stated that while it does capture statistics on a per-provider basis, it does not and will not release those figures, making direct comparison for consumers more difficult.

The shift to lower CVC costs to convince customers to adopt higher speed plans appears to be paying off, with a significant number of consumers opting for plans at the 50Mbps or higher tier accelerating while lower speed uptake slows down:

Measure Description March 2017 September 2017 December 2017 February 2018 March 2018
Uptake to higher wholesale plans The percentage of homes and businesses on a 50Mbps (download) wholesale speed plan or higher. 16% 16% 16% 25% 37%
Uptake to higher wholesale plans The percentage of homes and businesses on a 25Mbps (download) wholesale speed plan or lower. 84% 84% 84% 75% 63%

The one catch there is that the pricing changes that NBN Co introduced were only ever a temporary measure, with new pricing due to be introduced by May 2018. Given the temporary nature of that promotion, and the pressure on NBN Co to provide a return on the government's investment, it's feasible that we could see a rise in prices for consumers who don't sign up for deals before then.

Brad Whitcomb, NBN Co’s Chief Customer Officer – Residential stated that "With our new wholesale broadband bundles now set to launch in early May, we encourage people to shop around and speak to their internet providers about the plans available as well as what their usage is during peak evening periods to ensure they are getting the best value service."

In terms of network availability and fault resolution, it's very much a story of steady as it goes, with little change in availability overall, or for that matter the timing around fault restoration or faults per 100 homes and businesses:

Measure Description March 2017 September 2017 December 2017 February 2018 March 2018
Network availability Percentage of time the nbn access network is available and operating. This is calculated per NBN Co’s agreed service levels with phone and internet providers. This excludes planned network outages. 100.00% 100.00% 99.90% 99.90% 99.90%
Meeting agreed fault restoration times The percentage of faults that NBN Co resolves within the timeframes agreed with phone and internet providers. 65% 80% 82% 85% 83%
Faults per 100 connected homes and businesses The number of faults on the nbn access network per 100 homes or businesses per month. 0.9 1 1.1 1 1

Need a new NBN plan? Check out our NBN plan comparison engine to compare and find your new best plan!

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