Mon, 07 Jun 2021 - 16:19
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COVID-19 vindicated Coalition’s approach to NBN deployment

For millions of Australians who switched to working and studying from home during the pandemic, the NBN was essential.

And now, as we emerge from COVID-19, new analysis from the ACCC shows that Australian households are keener than ever to exploit what broadband has to offer.

Reliable high speed broadband is critical for video conferencing and all the other things we now do online. 

When Australians really needed it, the NBN delivered for them, operating reliably even as traffic levels on the network jumped 70 per cent during the day.

Thanks to our Liberal National Government’s focus on getting the NBN rolled out as quickly as possible, when the pandemic hit, 98 percent of homes were able to connect.  (Today it is well over 99 percent.)

Labor had connected just 51,000 premises to the fixed line network when we came to government in 2013; today 11.9 million premises are able to connect to the NBN.

At the peak of the pandemic over 40,000 homes were connecting to the NBN every week; today over eight million are connected and the numbers are rising steadily.

It is clear that public opinion about the NBN is significantly more positive than before the pandemic, as people have seen what the network can do.

There has also been a strong positive reaction to our announcement last year that the NBN would invest a further $4.5 billion to upgrade the network.

Thanks to this investment, by 2023 three quarters of fixed line premises will be able to order a service of up to one gigabit per second.  That’s one thousand megabits per second, or blazing fast broadband.

With each passing month we are seeing Australians take up more high speed services on the NBN, as the recent ‘Wholesale Market Indicators Report’ from the ACCC shows.

Today, 71 per cent of homes and businesses are on 50 Mbps (or higher) plans, up from 68 per cent in March 2020.  There is strong demand for the highest speeds, with 17 percent of NBN users now on plans of 100Mbps or greater.

As the ACCC also noted a record number of Australians are moving to very high speed tiers. 

The number of ‘Home Superfast’ services (250Mbps) increased from 11,136 in December 2020 to almost 490,000 in March 2021. The number of ‘Home Ultrafast’ connections (500-1000Mbps) grew from 9,924 to almost 83,000 in the same period.

Of course, customers need the network to be reliable as well as fast.  NBN data shows that in April this year the network was up and running 99.96 per cent of the time. 

Average network bandwidth congestion being experienced by NBN consumers was around 19 minutes per week per premises, sharply down from the 4 hours and 52 minutes reported in July 2017.

For all practical purposes the network rollout is completed, with the number of complex connections awaiting completion now around only 20,000.

This is a very significant outcome, reflecting several years of sustained work by our Liberal National Government to turn around the failing project we inherited from Labor.

The further investments we are making will be a major job generator during construction, and the upgraded network will generate an increase in GDP of $6.4 billion by 2024, according to economic analysis by AlphaBeta.

As more of Australia’s economy becomes digital—and as we work to become one of the world’s leading digital economies by 2030—it is vital to have a broadband network offering nationwide high speed connectivity.

The NBN we inherited in 2013 was a national joke.  We have worked hard to turn it around. And thanks to that work in 2021 the NBN is a national economic powerhouse.

This article appeared in Communications Day on 4 June 2021