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nbn continues to support Australia through COVID-19

07 April 2020

NBN Co chief executive Stephen Rue today provided a fresh update on how nbn and the broader telecommunications industry continues to support the nation during the COVID-19 crisis as more Australians rely on broadband services to work, study and connect with families and friends from home.

Speaking via video conference to the online audience of the annual CommsDay summit today, Mr Rue confirmed the nbn continued to perform strongly as Australians continue to self-isolate and increasingly rely on broadband services delivered over its network.

“Never before has the nation needed the telecommunications industry as it does today and never before has the nation needed nbn as it does today,” Mr Rue said.

“Many countries around the world will be facing this crisis without the secure, resilient and fast broadband access network that nbn brings to homes, businesses and schools.”

Today, more than 95 per cent of the nbn rollout is complete1, almost seven million homes and businesses are connected, and average download speeds have more than doubled from 16 megabits per second in 2014 to more than 40 megabits per second today2.

Data downloads have also increased from a decade ago when Australian broadband users downloaded less than 15 gigabytes a month, on average. Today, end user customer downloads on the nbn are more than 300 gigabytes a month, on average.

Compared to the last week of February (nbn’s Pre-COVID-19 benchmark), before social distancing measures were in effect, data demand on the nbn has significantly grown.

The peak download throughput (the measure of data flowing through the nbn™ access network) recorded last week in the evening busy hours has increased by 18 per cent from the Pre-COVID-19 benchmark to 13.1 terabits per second (Tbps); the peak recorded in the early evening hours has increased 21 per cent from the Pre-COVID-19 benchmark to 11.8Tbps, and the peak measured in business hours (Monday to Friday from 8am to 4:59pm) has increased 24 per cent from the Pre-COVID-19 benchmark to 9.6Tbps. One terabit per second is equivalent to 1,000 gigabits per second or one million megabits per second.

Mr Rue said that while these increases are significant compared to the Pre-COVID-19 benchmark, they remain well within the capacity headroom built into the nbn.

Mr Rue also confirmed that as nbn continues to experience increases in usage across the network - congestion, and outages have remained at low levels with no material increase compared to previous months.

“For NBN Co, our priority is to ensure that all Australians, no matter where they live or their circumstances, can connect to a high-speed, secure broadband network and continue to have access to the employment, education and entertainment opportunities that this technology enables,” he said.

“I can assure you we are using all of our resources and drawing on local and overseas expertise, to help keep the nation connected, productive, educated and informed through this crisis, as well as being able to stream video on demand.”

Mr Rue also underlined the importance of NBN Co and the telecommunications industry working closely together to support Australians through this crisis.

“Now, more than ever, it is absolutely critical we work together as an industry to help the nation stay connected,” he said.

“By working together, I have no doubt that our industry will rise to this challenge and help the nation when it needs us most.”

Notes to the editor:

1 NBN Co’s build completion commitment is that all standard installation premises in Australia are able to connect to the nbn™ access network as at the build completion date. This excludes premises in future new developments which will be an ongoing activity for NBN Co beyond the build completion date. It also excludes a small proportion of premises defined as ‘complex connections’ – which includes properties that are difficult to access, culturally significant areas and heritage sites – where connection depends on factors outside of NBN Co’s control such as permission from traditional owners, and where network construction to allow such premises to connect will be an ongoing activity of NBN Co beyond the build completion date.

2 Your experience, including the speeds actually achieved over the nbn™ network, depends on the nbn™ access network technology and configuration over which services are delivered to your premises, whether you are using the internet during the busy period, and some factors outside nbn’s control (like your equipment quality, software, broadband plan, signal reception and how your service provider designs its network). Speeds may also be impacted by the number of concurrent users on the nbn™ Fixed Wireless network, including during busy periods. Satellite end customers may also experience latency.

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