Tue, 26 May 2020 - 09:46
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Extraordinary growth in data carried on the NBN

The amount of data being carried by the National Broadband Network is growing at an extraordinary rate.

According to the ACCC’s just released Wholesale Market Indicators report, data capacity over the NBN has more than doubled in the last year.

Two factors have driven this strong growth: the number of NBN subscribers is up strongly; and the amount of data capacity provided to each subscriber also continues to grow.

In the last year, the number of subscribers on the NBN has increased 36 per cent from 5.2 million to 7.06 million, with subscribers growing by 455,000 in the last quarter.

And the amount of data capacity supplied to each subscriber, known as Connectivity Virtual Circuit or CVC, has grown by 51 per cent per user over the last year from 1.67 megabits per second (mbps) to 2.52 mbps. In the last quarter alone CVC per user grew by 31 per cent.

This growth has resulted in a 105 per cent increase in the total data capacity supplied by the NBN over the last year from 8.7 million mbps to 17.8 million mbps.

You might expect to see such sharp growth from a new technology start-up in its first couple of years – to see it from a company which is now in the tenth year of its rollout is really something.

Another trend which stands out from the ACCC’s figures: Australians are increasingly choosing higher speed plans on the NBN.

Going back over two years to the December quarter 2017, just 16 per cent of subscribers took plans with speeds 50 mbps or higher.  For the last quarter to March 2020, 65 per cent of subscribers took plans with speeds of 50 mbps or higher.

It’s no coincidence that the higher speed plans have become considerably more affordable over the last few years.

The ACCC Communications Market Report 2018-19 found since 2014-15 the retail price of the 50 mpbs service fell by 38 per cent in real terms from $144 per month to $89 per month. Similarly, the price of the 100 mpbs service fell 37 per cent from $171 per month to $108 per month.

The numbers tell a clear story about the NBN: prices are coming down, subscribers are growing quickly, and the data capacity supplied to each subscriber is expanding rapidly.