Average bandwidth congestion on the National Broadband Network (NBN) dropped to 12 minutes per week in February from nearly five hours per week in February last year, as resellers purchase more capacity.
The latest figures come amid a move by the company behind the NBN rollout to provide greater transparency around the network’s progress.
NBN Co announced the launch of its new monthly progress report initiative on 13 March in a bid to give Australians the ability to track the company’s performance in improving services delivered via the NBN.
The first report released as part of the new initiative covers the company’s figures for February, documents service quality, the percentage of homes and businesses on a 50mbps (download) wholesale speed plan or higher, co-operation with industry partners, network congestion levels and progress with the network rollout more broadly, among other measures.
The report appears to confirm figures released by the Australian consumer watchdog in February showing a 38 per cent increase in Connectivity Virtual Circuit (CVC) acquired by NBN retail service providers (RSPs) for the three months ending December, following efforts by NBN Co to encourage resellers to buy up more broadband bandwidth.
The CVC is related to the amount of network capacity shared across an RSP’s end-user premises. It is purchased based on the bandwidth required to service all of an RSP’s end-user premises, aggregated by that CVC.
The report by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) revealed a significant increase in CVC acquired, from 1.11 megabits per second (Mbps) to 1.53 Mbps per user since the September 2017 quarter, an increase of 38 per cent.
The increase followed several pricing changes announced by NBN Co late last year, including the introduction of a number of new products, including a new NBN 50 wholesale bundle charged at $45 a month with 2Mbps of bandwidth included and a NBN 100 wholesale bundle at $65 a month with 2.5Mbps capacity included.
Now, NBN Co’s report for February has revealed that the average weekly network bandwidth congestion tally has dropped, year-on-year, from four hours and 50 minutes in February 2017 to just 12 minutes for February this year.
In November last year, the figure stood at three hours and 51 minutes.
“Significant progress has been made to improve the speeds delivered during peak hours, with internet and phone providers now provisioning more bandwidth on the network than before we announced our new wholesale pricing options,” NBN Co’s residential chief customer officer, Brad Whitcomb, said.
“This has helped to relieve bandwidth congestion on the network from an average of around four hours to 12 minutes per week and to deliver improved broadband services for millions of Australians,” he said.
Average network bandwidth congestion is calculated across all bandwidth purchased by all phone and internet providers across the whole network, excluding Sky Muster satellite services. Such bandwidth congestion is caused by the level of provisioning of capacity by the phone and internet providers.
By way of highlighting the change in product uptake, the report shows that, as of February, 25 per cent of end customers opted for a 50Mbps service (download) or above, up from 16 per cent as of November last year.
Meanwhile, 75 per cent of end customers opted for a 25Mbps service (download) or lower, down from 84 per cent, where it stood in November last year.
The report also revealed that the number of homes and business connected to the network stood at 3.6 million in February. In November last year, it was 3.3 million.
Update on HFC sales halt
Meanwhile, NBN Co’s homes and businesses ready-to-connect tally actually dropped to 6.3 million from the 6.5 million where it stood in November last year, largely as a result of the halt on new sales of hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) services.
Whitcomb provided an update on just how much longer RSPs will have to wait before they can start selling new services in NBN Co’s HFC footprint, which the company temporarily paused late last year in a bid to work out technical issues with the technology and improve service standards across the network.
“With respect to the HFC network, we’ve completed a number of trials that give us confidence the decision to do more work up front was the right one,” Whitcomb said. “These trials have been successful, and we’re now applying our learnings to our growing HFC footprint.
“Work is underway with RSPs to ensure we’re ready as an industry to restart sales and services over this network, and will provide more specifics around the timing of our relaunch next month.
“But despite the temporary pause on sales, we remain on track to complete the build and have eight million happy homes and businesses on the network by 2020,” he said.