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Australian Data Demand: new weekly report reveals growth in nbn data demand

02 April 2020

Video conferencing, video streaming and accessing cloud-based office applications have driven a large increase in data demand on the nbn™ access network as more Australians turn to their broadband services for work, education and entertainment.

NBN Co today launched Australian Broadband Data Demand, a new weekly report revealing significant increases in download peaks since the end of February. The report shows the highest throughput (the measure of data flowing through the nbn™ access network) recorded in a week during each of the following three periods: the daytime business hours, early evening hours and busy evening hours.

It comes as more Australians self-isolate and increasingly rely on services over the nbn to remain connected to work, school and higher education, entertainment, family and friends.

Since the last week of February - when social distancing measures were not yet in effect - the peak download throughput recorded each week in the evening busy hours has increased by 25 per cent to 13.8 terabits per second (Tbps); the peak recorded in the early evening hours has increased 30 per cent to 12.8Tbps, and the peak measured in business hours (Monday to Friday from 8am to 4:59pm) has increased 21 per cent to 9Tbps. One terabit per second is equivalent to 1,000 gigabits per second or one million megabits per second.

While the peak throughput recorded in the daytime business hours has steadily climbed, it remains below the busy evening period when the peak data throughput on the main wholesale service is at its highest. The increases in throughput in the busy evening period also remain well below the maximum capacity available on the nbn.

NBN Co considers the peak throughput metric as the most appropriate measure for growth in data flowing through the network, as it shows when usage is at its highest in each defined period.

While this new metric measures the difference between peaks (which may occur at different times in each defined period), since social distancing measures were implemented, traffic on the nbn main wholesale service has also significantly grown with business hours usage increasing by more than 70 per cent (as shown in the graph below at 11am).

Across all three time periods, NBN Co expects the majority of data usage to be mainly dominated by real-time video streaming, web browsing, social media and online gaming.

However, since the last week of February, there have likely been large increases in the use of video conferencing and business applications as more people work and study from home.

The nbn has been engineered to support large capacity increases today and into the future to support Australia’s broadband needs, and as data demand has grown since social distancing measures were implemented to slow the spread of COVID-19, services over the nbn have continued to perform well.

The new report follows NBN Co’s announcement on 18 March 2020 that it will waive charges for additional capacity of up to 40 per cent to internet providers for at least three months, as it leads an industry-wide approach to maintain access to reliable, high-speed broadband for nbn residential and business customers.

By publishing the new statistics, NBN Co intends to keep Australians and internet providers informed about the growing data demand over the nbn as more Australians continue to adhere to social distancing measures.

NBN Co Chief Customer Officer - Residential, Brad Whitcomb said:

“Access to secure and resilient broadband is more important than ever for Australia’s business, education and entertainment needs and NBN Co seeks to support Australians during this time.

“As more people start to work and learn from home, we’ve seen a substantial increase in the peak throughput on our main wholesale service during the daytime business hours, early evening and busy evening periods. And as we continue to see these increases in data demand, the network continues to perform well, helping internet providers to support the internet needs of Australian homes and businesses.

“We are very pleased that the network continues to operate well in these unprecedented times and is accommodating the increased data load. It shows the nbn is well-prepared to handle Australia’s growing data demand at a time when the nation most needs high-speed, reliable broadband.”

The new metrics will be published on nbn’s Transparency dashboard at:


  • These metrics represent the throughput peak each week, across the following three distinct periods:
    • Business hours - Monday to Friday 8am to 4:59pm
    • Early evening hours - Monday to Sunday 5pm to 7:59pm
    • Evening busy hours - Monday to Sunday 8pm to 11:59pm
  • For Business Hours, the peak is determined by taking the highest downstream throughput for our TC-4 service from the busiest 15 minute increment between Monday to Friday. The Early Evening Hours and Busy Evening Hours figures are recorded using the same methodology, but over a seven day period.
  • TC-4 is nbn’s standard wholesale broadband service that is designed primarily for general internet and standard data services across all access technologies.
  • NBN Co considers the throughput peak metric for our TC-4 service as the most appropriate measure for growth in data flowing through the network as it shows when network use is at its highest in each defined period in a week for our wholesale access service most used for residential broadband services.
  • This second graph shows TC-4 usage (measured in terabits per second) over a 24 hour period on the dates shown in the key, and compares it the results from those two dates against a corresponding 24 hour period from nbn’s pre-COVID-19 baseline on 28 February 2020 (the last week of February). Each marker on the x axis represents an hour period in the day. The throughput measure (represented on the y axis) for each of the 60 minute periods in that 24 hours periods is calculated by recording the highest downstream throughput for our TC-4 service from the busiest 15 minute increment in that 60 minute period.

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Mitchell Bingemann
Phone: +61 429 348 586

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