NBN boosts capacity ahead of COVID-19 traffic surge

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With the NBN traffic set to explode thanks to coronavirus-related social distancing and isolation, there’s been understandable concern about how our nation’s primary fixed-line broadband network will cope. But in a welcome move, NBN Co has announced it will waive charges for resellers to buy additional capacity of up to 40%, meaning there’ll be more bandwidth to go around (and no price hikes).

Under the terms of this offer, NBN providers – that’s telcos such as Telstra, TPG, iiNet, and Optus – will be able to purchase up to 40% more CVC (Connectivity Virtual Circuit) capacity as needed, at no extra cost. The price waiver will be effective from Monday, 23 March, and cover charges incurred over the next three months.

How will this improve the NBN?

CVC is the fee an NBN provider pays to NBN Co to access bandwidth for its customers. The more CVC a retailer buys, the more room it has for customers on its NBN service, meaning you’ll more likely to get fast, congestion-free performance.

By offering NBN sellers a fee-free CVC allowance, NBN Co is taking away the financial burden that stops many providers from buying additional bandwidth for their customer base. This means more telcos will add more CVC, and take the strain off the network at a time when thousands of Aussies are transitioning to working or studying from home.

NBN Co has confirmed the changes to wholesale CVC pricing will apply to all fixed line, fixed wireless, and satellite NBN services, so providers and customers across the country will be covered. With data use on the network already rising by more than 5% in the last week, NBN Co is gearing up for what will likely be months of increased demand.

While NBN Co has stated that the network is currently performing as usual, the 40% figure reflects the increased bandwidth requirements seen in heavily affected countries such as Italy, where mandatory lock-downs have been enforced.

“We are closely following events unfolding in other parts of the world and we have taken decisive action to incrementally offer pricing relief for up to 40 per cent more capacity.” said NBN Co CEO Stephen Rue.

“NBN Co will play the critical role it was set up to fulfil, ensuring Australia’s wholesale digital infrastructure is robust, resilient and reliable. We are confident that this immediate response will make a significant difference.”

Am I on the right NBN plan?

Unsure if you’re on the right plan for working from home, or just want to keep your service speedy enough for your nightly Netflix marathon? If you’re currently on a lower-speed NBN plan, you may want to consider an upgrade to NBN 50 or NBN 100.

We’ve compiled some of the cheapest and best-value NBN deals on offer in the below tables. For more plans, head over to our NBN comparison tool.

Standard Plus Evening Speed (NBN 50) plans

The following table shows a selection of published unlimited Standard Plus Evening Speed (NBN 50) plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard monthly cost, from the lowest to highest, and then by alphabetical order of provider. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.

Premium Evening Speed (NBN 100) plans

The following table shows a selection of published unlimited Premium Evening Speed (NBN 100) plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard monthly cost, from the lowest to highest, and then by alphabetical order of provider. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.

What about 5G and mobile broadband?

If you’re not yet connected to the NBN, or just dissatisfied with your current NBN service, you may benefit from alternatives such as mobile broadband or home wireless.

We’ve outlined these options in more detail in our guide to working from home. If you live in a major metro area, you may also have access to Optus and Telstra’s newly-launched 5G networks – you can read more on Telstra 5G mobile broadband in this guide, or check out Optus’ 5G home broadband here.

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Image: LightField Studios / Shutterstock

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