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Evolving the nbn™ network to meet future demand

5-minute read

Corporate Plan 2021 highlights:

  • NBN Co’s highest peak wholesale download speed tiers of 500 Mbps to close to 1 Gbps1 available on demand to an estimated 75 per cent of homes and businesses on the fixed-line network by 20232, plus dedicated regional co-investment funding
  • Investment in a range of initiatives to provide businesses across Australia with on-demand capability to support innovation, productivity and growth
  • $4.5 billion network investment plan to be funded by private debt, which is forecast to create an additional 25,000 jobs in Australia.

With the initial build of the nbn™ network complete – more than 11.8 million premises ready to connect and 7.6 million premises connected – we are investing in the next phase of nbn’s evolution.

Our purpose of lifting Australia’s digital capability has grown in importance over the past 12 months as natural disasters of floods and bushfires, and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need for fast, reliable, and secure broadband.

With millions of people working and studying from home, demand for higher speed broadband services is growing. To meet this, and future, customer demand – and taking advantage of the momentum established in building the initial network – we are bringing forward the next phase of planned network investment.

Evolving through investment

As part of our Corporate Plan 2021, we are investing $4.5 billion, funded entirely by private debt and starting work immediately. This investment into the digital backbone of the nation is forecast to create 25,000 additional jobs in Australia.

This phase of network investment includes:

Making our highest wholesale speed plans available to more Australians

$3.5 billion will be allocated to network investments that will benefit homes and small businesses across the Fibre-to-the-Node (FTTN), Fibre-to-the-Curb (FTTC) and Hybrid-Fibre-Coaxial (HFC) networks. This, so that in 2023 an estimated 75 per cent of homes and businesses in the fixed-line footprint will have access to peak wholesale speed tiers of 500 Mbps to close to 1 Gbps1,2.

This includes:

  • Deeper fibre rollout: Premises connected to the nbn network via FTTN technology that require higher speeds will be able to access higher wholesale speed tiers via FTTP technology. This will be done by using existing fibre infrastructure already built to nodes and investing in the continued rollout of fibre deeper into neighbourhoods. Customers living or working in these areas will be able to place an order with any participating internet provider for a higher speed nbn™ Home Fast, nbn™ Home Superfast or nbn™ Home Ultrafast broadband plan. At that point, we will complete the build of the fibre lead-in to the premises. Following further detailed planning and development of business rules for lead-ins, we will be in position to release further information on timing and locations.
  • Investments in HFC network: Nearly 2.5 million premises in capital cities connected to nbn’s HFC network will benefit from access to higher speed capability. The planned upgrade to this network will offer all HFC customers access to the nbn™ Home Ultrafast plan, currently available to 7 per cent of HFC-connected premises. When we launched higher speed tiers earlier this year, participating retailers were able to sell retail plans based on the nbn™ Home Fast speed tier to all customers connected to the nbn by HFC and the nbn™ Home Superfast speed tier was available to approximately 70 per cent of HFC-connected premises.
  • Speed uplift for Fibre-to-the-Curb (FTTC) customers: We will aim to enable premises connected to nbn via FTTC technology to access the nbn™ Home Superfast and nbn™ Home Ultrafast speed plans through on-demand enablement and deployment of capability or the provision of fibre lead-ins in certain circumstances. technology essentially gives us the ability to deliver greater speeds to customers connected to our network via FTTC.

Supporting business innovation, productivity, and growth

Up to $700 million will be invested in a multi-faceted package of initiatives over the next three years to support business innovation, productivity and growth. The initiatives recognise the growing importance of online collaboration and cloud-based productivity tools for businesses and increasing demand for premium-grade business nbn™ solutions.

Find out more about this initiative here.

Working together to co-invest in regional and rural Australia

Up to $300 million will be committed for investment to work with state and territory governments and local councils to deliver higher speed broadband services to households and businesses in regional and remote areas of Australia.

Investing in our customers

In addition to the network investments outlined above, $1.5 billion will be invested to build and connect more than 300,000 new premises; extend some COVID-19 relief measures into FY21; invest in IT simplification to reduce costs and improve customer experience for nbn and internet retailers; increase focus on regional areas through targeted investments in fixed wireless and satellite networks, expansion of fixed line networks in regional areas, and an expansion of nbn local workforce and regional partnerships.

Additional jobs and GDP boost forecast

In a report commissioned by nbn, economics firm AlphaBeta estimates that this stimulus package will improve national productivity and has the potential to add more than $6.4 billion to annual GDP from 2024. NBN Co’s ongoing investment program is also forecast to create an additional 25,000 direct, indirect, and induced jobs over the next two years.

Core to the success of this plan is to ensure that we continue to be customer-led in all we do, focussing on delivering great customer experience in co-operation with our retail partners, and ensuring we address the diverse needs of customers.

1 Regardless of the retail service you purchase, the actual wholesale speeds delivered by nbn’s highest wholesale speed tiers of 500 to close to 1000 Mbps will be less than 1Gbps due to equipment and network limitations and the peak information rate may fall anywhere in this range. In addition, the HFC Home Ultrafast bandwidth profile downstream service provided to retail providers is a ranged profile with a maximum sustained information rate of 750Mbps. Reference to speeds are not end user speeds; they are wholesale layer 2 peak information rate bandwidth provided to retail providers. An end customer’s experience, including the speeds actually achieved over the nbn network, depends on some factors outside our control (like equipment quality, software, and how your retail service provider designs its network) and the nbn technology used for your connection.

2 Wholesale speeds subject to the access technology by which the service is supplied.

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