nbn® Fixed Wireless Fair Use Policy Enforcement

Overview of nbn management of Fixed Wireless Fair Use Policy compliance

An nbn Fixed Wireless connection utilises data transmitted over radio signals to connect premises to the nbn network. Data travels from a transmission tower located as far as 14 kilometres to an outdoor antenna that has been fitted to the premises by an nbn approved installer. The nbn Fixed Wireless network has a coverage area of approximately 225,000 square kilometres across Australia and is enabled by over 2,200 towers and 22,000 network cells on-air. More than 600,000 premises are within the nbn Fixed Wireless footprint, predominantly in regional and rural Australia, with approximately 60 per cent of these premises having an active nbn Fixed Wireless service.

One of several recent initiatives aimed at improving customer experience on the nbn Fixed Wireless network is the new framework for managing Fixed Wireless Fair Use Policy compliance that nbn are implementing. This is intended to reduce the adverse impact that a minority of Heavy Users have on the quality of service and user experience of the majority of other users on the nbn Fixed Wireless network. 

nbn will manage the network resources made available to Intensive Application Types used by Heavy Users during busy periods via the Fixed Wireless Fair Use Policy. It is during busy periods that nbn has determined that the adverse effect from the use of Intensive Application Types by Heavy Users is greatest. Management of network resources available to Intensive Application Types involves gradual shaping of the bandwidth available to these applications to pre-determined levels.

This framework for nbn's management of the Fixed Wireless Fair Use Policy does not cap or limit the total amount of data customers can use in a particular month. It also does not cap or limit the amount of data customers can use on any specific application(s).

Customers should contact their Retail Service Provider for any queries related their retail plan inclusions, pricing, terms and conditions.

Please refer to the Frequently Asked Questions section for further information, including definitions of terms such as ‘Heavy User’, ‘Intensive Application Types’, etc.

Frequently Asked Questions

The current nbn Ethernet Fair Use Policy forms part of the Wholesale Broadband Agreement between nbn and retail service providers and has been in place for over 8 years. It is a publicly available document on nbn’s website.

The purpose of the Fair Use Policy is to support the consistent supply of broadband products to all nbn Retail Service Provider customers and ultimately to end-customers. It recognises that the nbn Fixed Wireless network is a shared resource and the activities of one person can detrimentally affect the use of the network by another person.

The Fair Use Policy allows nbn to gradually shape the bandwidth available to intensive applications of a customer’s service (apply a Service Reduction under the Wholesale Broadband Agreement) where the customer and/or their Retail Service Provider’s bandwidth use is not in accordance with the Fair Use Policy.

Usage of the nbn Fixed Wireless network has been steadily increasing in recent years. A small number of customers’ usage is disproportionately larger than others to the extent that their usage is materially impacting the performance for other users.

However, at present nbn has limited ability to reduce the impact these Heavy Users have on other users. For this reason, nbn will enforce the Fixed Wireless Fair Use Policy in a way (being as described under the heading "How does nbn determine if a customer is a Heavy User and enforce the Fair Use Policy on the nbn Fixed Wireless network") that we believe will have a positive impact on the vast majority of users, by implementing a framework
to minimise the impact Heavy Users have on other users of the same network cell, particularly during busy periods.

Importantly, the framework is not designed to penalise users for their volume of usage or the types of applications they use on the Fixed Wireless network. It is designed to more fairly allocate network resources during periods a Heavy User’s usage is likely to have an adverse effect on other users of the cell, which is typically the busy period

We expect to begin to apply application shaping to Intensive Application Types (see below) for Heavy Users during busy periods from Q4, CY2022.

Downlink
Month 1 – identifying Heavy Users

  • nbn will identify that a Retail Service Provider has exceeded the Fair Use Policy average download threshold of 200GB across all their Fixed Wireless customers in a calendar month.
  • For these Retail Service Providers, nbn will identify any individual customers that have exceeded 400GB in the same calendar month.

Month 2 – enforcing the Fair Use Policy

  • nbn will identify whether the specified Heavy User customers (that exceeded 400GB in the previous calendar month) are using Intensive Application Types and impacting performance for other customers during busy periods.
  • If so, nbn will apply the application shaping remedy only for the relevant Intensive Application Types during busy periods. This could be for as little as a few minutes, an hour, or longer depending on the network traffic at the time.

Uplink

Month 1 – identifying Heavy Users

  • nbn will identify any customers that have exceeded 120GB uplink usage for a calendar month and notify Retail Service Providers about these customers.

Month 2 – enforcing the Fair Use Policy

  • nbn will identify whether the specified Heavy User customers (that exceeded 120GB in the previous calendar month) are using Intensive Application Types and impacting performance for other customers during busy periods.
  • If so, nbn will apply the application shaping remedy only for the relevant Intensive Application Types during busy periods.

It is important to note that in both downlink and uplink scenarios, no application shaping will be implemented if the Heavy User is not having an impact on network performance.

nbn will never contact end-users directly regarding their service. Customers should reach out to their Retail Service Providers via phone, chat, website, app etc to find out if they are a Heavy User.
The following table outlines the current Intensive Application Types that nbn will moderate when it commences applying application shaping and the throughput speed thresholds for those Intensive Application Types during application shaping for Heavy Users in a busy period.
Intensive Application Type Downlink throughput threshold speed under application shaping* Uplink throughput speed threshold under Service application shaping*
Ultra-High-Definition Video Streaming

E.g.: Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime, Apple TV+, Stan TV, Disney+ etc
14Mbp N/A

P2P File Sharing 

 

E.g.: BitTorrent, Ares, Kazaa, iMesh etc

1Mbp

1Mbp

Software Downloads/Updates

E.g,: Windows Update, Android Updates, Blizzard Downloader, Apple Software Update, APT etc
3Mbp N/A
Gaming Downloads/Updates

E.g.: Playstation.net content download, PS5 Games Download, Steam, Xbox Live download, Xbox Live update etc
5Mbps N/A
* These thresholds are settings applied on an AVC TC-4 at a network level. The speeds achieved by an AVC TC-4 will depend on the bandwidth profile of the AVC TC-4, the number of concurrent users on the nbn Fixed Wireless network at the time and a range of other factors set out in the nbn Ethernet Product Description. These thresholds are not committed information rates (CIR).

It is during busy periods that nbn has determined that the adverse effect from the use of Intensive Application Types by Heavy Users is greatest. Under this framework, for the purposes of determining when to apply application shaping to Intensive Application Types used by Heavy User:

  • Downlink: The busy period on the downlink begins when usage on the network cell (or group of cells where Carrier Aggregation is configured) reaches 70% of its maximum busy period capacity, and the busy period will end when cell (or cell group) usage falls below 70% of maximum capacity, being the point at which usage of Intensive Applications on the downlink are likely to have an adverse effect on other users of the same cell (or cell group).
  • Uplink: In the uplink direction, the busy period will begin when usage on the cell (or group of cells where Carrier Aggregation is configured) reaches 50% of its maximum busy period capacity, being the point at which usage of Intensive Applications on the uplink are likely to have an adverse effect on other users of the same cell (or cell group).

Only the Intensive Application Types will be impacted by application shaping. It is possible that the Heavy User will not notice any change in their day-to-day use of the Fixed Wireless service. All applications will continue to work for the user, albeit the Intensive Applications may work at a reduced speed for the period it is being shaped.

nbn recognises that any application shaping designed to moderate the impact of Intensive Application Types must also avoid moderating non-intensive or critical application types, including where those application types are being used by Heavy Users. By way of example, non-Intensive Application Types that would be unaffected by the proposed Service Reduction remedy during busy periods would potentially include:

  • Education, Health and other essential service-related applications
  • Productivity tools such as voice, video conferencing and messaging
  • Normal web browsing
  • Online Banking, email and other similar low duty cycle applications
  • Entertainment applications such as online gaming, video streaming (subject to any restrictions on UltraHigh-Definition quality video streaming of Heavy Users)

Different application types have different network traffic signatures. For example, they display different upload and download profiles and destination IP addresses. By analysing network traffic, we are able to ascertain the type of use for different application types.

The framework for managing the Fixed Wireless Fair Use Policy only applies to a defined set of Intensive Application Types for identified Heavy Users during a busy period. These application types tend to consume consistently large volumes of network capacity resources over extended durations, often consuming the maximum available resources that the wireless network scheduler algorithm will serve to applications and thus have the effect of reducing capacity available for other users.

For Heavy Users subject to an application shaping event, nbn only applies the shaping to individual customers, only to the Intensive Application Type and only until the busy period on the network is alleviated. This could be for as little as a few minutes, an hour, or longer depending on the network traffic at the time.

Customers whose usage falls below the Heavy User thresholds will be removed from the monthly Heavy Users list for the subsequent month, and not be subject to application shaping in that subsequent month. Should a customer continue to qualify under the framework, they will remain subject to the application shaping remedy.

Enforcement of the Fixed Wireless Fair Use Policy is intended to have a positive impact on the vast majority of users, by implementing a framework to minimise the impact Heavy Users have on other users of the same network cell, particularly during busy periods.

This framework for nbn’s management of the Fixed Wireless Fair Use Policy does not cap or limit the total amount of data customers can use in a particular month. It also does not cap or limit the amount of data customers can use on any specific application(s).

For customers seeking business solutions, Enterprise Ethernet and/or Business Satellite Service may be available in some Fixed Wireless coverage areas. Customers should contact their Retail Service Provider for any queries related to their retail plan inclusions, pricing, term and conditions, or to discuss alternative options.

The framework for nbn’s management of the Fixed Wireless Fair Use Policy only applies application shaping where a customer meets the criteria as set out in the paragraph titled "How does nbn determine if a customer is a Heavy User and enforce the Fair Use Policy on the nbn Fixed Wireless network?". nbn does not cap or limit the total amount of data customers can use in a particular month. It also does not cap or limit the amount of data
customers can use on any specific application(s).

Customers should contact their Retail Service Provider for any queries related their retail plan inclusions, pricing, terms and conditions.

nbn’s framework for managing the Fixed Wireless Fair Use Policy is intended to reduce the adverse impact that a minority of Heavy Users have on the quality of service and user experience of the majority of other users on the nbn Fixed Wireless network.

The 200GB download threshold relates to the average download usage per calendar month across the customer base of each individual Retail Service Provider. A breach of that threshold is a breach of the Fair Use Policy. For that reason, it is defined as the initial trigger for the proposed management framework in the downlink.

However, nbn’s analysis indicates that by only shaping Intensive Application Types during busy periods when used by customers whose monthly download usage is greater than 400GB (and whose Retail Service Providers average download usage for Fixed Wireless Customers is above 200GB) will result in the most effective benefit to the majority of users on the network.

Every 12 months nbn plans to conduct an annual review of:

  • the list of Intensive Application Types,
  • the throughput speed limitations under application shaping for each Intensive Application Type,
  • the cell capacity threshold for the busy period, and
  • the threshold values that will identify a Heavy User.

nbn will notify Retail Service Providers in advance of any changes.

NBN Co spends $200 million (approx.) each year on the nbn Fixed Wireless network to meet current capacity commitments as demand grows.

On 22 March 2022, the Australian Government announced that it would invest $480 million into the nbn Fixed Wireless network. nbn committed an additional $270 million towards the network, bringing total new investment into the nbn Fixed Wireless network at $750 million.

This additional investment will help to upgrade the nbn Fixed Wireless network and is planned to take place progressively over the next 24 to 36 months. However, at present nbn has limited ability to moderate the impact Heavy Users have on other users. For this reason, nbn will enforce the Fixed Wireless Fair Use Policy to reduce the impact that Heavy Users have on other users sharing the same cell(s) during busy periods on the network.

The aim of enforcing the Fair Use Policy is to reduce the impact that Heavy Users have on other users sharing the same cell(s) during busy periods on the network. As the nbn Fixed Wireless network is a shared resource and the activities of one person can detrimentally affect the use of the network by another person, nbn intends to continue enforcing the Fair Use Policy after the upgrade program is complete.

However, every 12 months from the date on which nbn commences applying application shaping under the Fair Use Policy, nbn plans to conduct an annual review of the list of Intensive Application Types, the throughput speed limitations for application shaping of each Intensive Application Type, the cell capacity threshold for the busy period, and the threshold values that will identify a Heavy User.