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NBN pricing is about to change, again


Guaranteed bandwidth for high-speed plans is on the way.

Last December, NBN Co announced plans for new wholesale pricing designed to encourage Australians to sign up for faster service on the National Broadband Network (NBN). Because it needed to consult with the industry about these plans, NBN Co also introduced temporary "promotional" pricing designed to encourage customers to sign up for faster 50/20 plans, rather than the cheaper and slower 25/5 or 12/1 options.

I've written in detail about how the scheme works, but this is the key takeaway: pricing needed to be altered so that customers could get higher speeds for less money and have some kind of guarantee of acceptable service (measured as "guaranteed bandwidth"). That simply hadn't happened with the previous model and had led to widespread complaints about congestion, especially during the evening when demand for streaming services like Netflix and iview are high.

That consultation period is now over, and NBN Co is pushing ahead with its plans to introduce new wholesale plans for higher speeds that include a minimum amount of bandwidth. The good news is that in effect, nothing has changed. The wholesale plans that were announced in December are now available to ISPs.

What this means is that if you've signed up for one of the "Focus on 50" promotional deals that were launched while the consultation happened, your provider will eventually have to move onto the new wholesale deals. That potentially means your plan could change.

In some cases, that might not make any difference to what you pay. In effect, you might get exactly the same offer as you do now. But providers might also tweak their pricing and inclusions. We'll be watching closely to see what happens as providers announce new plans over the next few months. The current "promotional" offers end on 31 October this year.

The promotion has been a big success: NBN Co's own figures show that 1.3 million households are now on 50/20 plans.

The lesson here? Keep a careful eye on any communication from your ISP. Make sure you understand what you're getting for that monthly fee. With guaranteed minimum bandwidth, services from every ISP will be much more similar, so make sure you're happy with what's on offer. Don't just take the lazy option and stick with your existing provider: compare your choices before signing up.

Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears regularly on

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