Telstra, Optus, TPG and Aussie Broadband Speak Out over NBN’s Speed Bump Plan

Telstra, Optus, TPG and Aussie Broadband Speak Out over NBN’s Speed Bump Plan

Earlier this week, the NBN Co revealed plans to upgrade its NBN 100 speeds to match NBN 500 at no extra wholesale cost to retailers.

This speed bump might seem like a minor change to the untrained eye, but it is quite a jump on standard internet speeds. For example, on a standard ‘Home Fast’ NBN 100 plan, implementing a 25GB Fortnite patch at current speeds would take around 36 minutes to apply. On the proposed speeds, it could be installed in as quick as seven minutes or even down to five minutes on faster-proposed plan changes.

The company estimates that nine million homes would see the benefit of the upgraded speed tiers by December 2024 and potentially up to 10.2 million by December 2025.

These changes aren’t set in stone, they are currently open for consultation, with NBN Co aiming to have them in place within 12 months.

But how have the telcos taken to the news? Some of them are open to the changes, with nothing but positive comments to make and others were sceptical of the proposed plans.

Gizmodo Austalia spoke to Telstra, Optus, TPG and Aussie Broadband to get a pulse check on how they’re faring with NBN’s proposal.

Telstra supportive of the proposal

Telstra seemed supportive of the NBN 500 changes proposed by the NBN Co, which would see the three fastest plans given substantial upgrades. “We are always supportive of any initiative that provides an improved experience for our customers. We look forward to further discussions with NBN Co during the consultation period as we assess the impact on Telstra and our customers,” a Telstra spokesperson said.

Optus’ calls it a “long time coming”

Similarly to Telstra, Optus had a generally positive outlook on the proposed changes, and flagged that such changes were a long time coming. “We welcome NBN’s move to improve customers’ access to higher speeds,” Optus vice president of government and regulatory affairs Andrew Sheridan said.

“This proposal is something Optus has long called for and is consistent with our focus on improving the connectivity experience for all Australians in this rapidly evolving digital world. We look forward to working with the NBN to understand how these higher speed tiers can be delivered to all households.”

TPG concerned about some of its customers

Breaking from Optus and Telstra on NBN 500, TPG, the company that operates, iiNet, Vodafone and Internode (RIP) was more critical of the changes. “Enabling faster download speeds for NBN customers is a positive opportunity for those who can access it. However, we must not overlook customers who cannot afford pricier, high-speed NBN plans, or the associated costs of upgrading equipment to take full advantage of these new speeds,” a TPG telecom spokesperson said.

“If NBN was genuine about addressing affordability and high-speed access for all Australians, it would extend these benefits to the 70 per cent of NBN customers on its entry-level 12, 25, and 50Mbps plans. In this cost-of-living crisis, it would be disappointing if only those with the financial means to access high-speed NBN plans reaped the benefits of these upgrades.”

We’ve reached out to NBN Co to respond to this comment from TPG. The fact that NBN Co’s changes don’t currently, at this time, apply to the most popular NBN speed tier in Australia, is a disappointment. At the risk of skewing off course, our friends at WhistleOut also made a good point yesterday, that although the speed boost wouldn’t lead to a higher wholesale cost, it may lead to higher costs for the end consumer (especially when it comes to increased pressure on networks from the higher speeds) and it may be a competitive option for people on 5G plans.

Aussie Broadband’s calls it “exciting”

Finally, Australia’s fourth largest NBN retailer weighed in on the proposal yesterday.

“Aussie Broadband is still understanding the detail of NBN Co’s speed proposal, but on the face of it, it could represent one of the most exciting steps in technology adoption for Australian households and businesses,” Aussie Broadband Group managing director Phillip Britt said in a statement.

Aussie’s got two major sticks in the mud for the proposal, the first is around accessibility in Regional Australia and the second is competition.

“At Aussie, we’re incredibly proud of the great investments in our retail network to improve the experience for customers adopting FTTP, and NBN Co’s announcement has made that early investment all the more essential as Australians take the next step into a high-speed future.

“It’s essential, however, that these announcements are paired with more investment in fixed broadband for regional Australians so the digital inclusion gap isn’t widened further. While Aussie has a very strong share of the Fibre Connect market we still need to understand what impacts this will have for competition. By switching customers over at the wholesale level, smaller RSPs may miss out on the opportunity to compete for those customers which could harm retail-side innovation in the Australian broadband market.”

We’ve reached out to NBN Co to address these concerns.

Image: Gizmodo Australia

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