NBN Co caves to telco pressure over COVID relief

NBN Co caves to telco pressure over COVID relief

Revises methods for calculating COVID relief using May 2021 as a baseline.

Credit: NBN Co

NBN Co has backed down to pressure from Australia’s telecommunications industry over its calculation of credit relief on the back of the recent COVID-19 outbreaks. 

From 1 October 2021 until 31 December 2021, NBN Co will now calculate COVID credit relief for additional data use above a 25 per cent Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) by comparing each retail service provider’s (RSP) ongoing monthly data utilisation against their use in May 2021. 

The announcement by NBN Co follows a recent open letter sent by five of Australia’s biggest telcos calling for May to be used as a baseline, ahead of the first outbreaks and lockdowns in June. 

NBN Co said it would apply its revised COVID-19 relief credit each calendar month from 1 October 2021 to 31 December 2021, with credit to internet retailers calculated in arrears.  

If lockdowns persist, the broadband builder said it would extend the relief measures into 2022. 

In addition, NBN Co said it would credit internet retailers 50 per cent of the wholesale overage charge for any additional data use above the 25 per cent CAGR. This will be credited to internet retailers at a rate of $4 per Mbps, rather than the usual charge of $8 per Mbps. 

The open letter, sent by the bosses of Telstra, Optus, TPG Telecom, Aussie Broadband and Vocus to NBN Co CEO Stephen Rue, originally demanded alterations to the builder's $5.2 million relief package in response to the Delta variant outbreaks and ensuing lockdowns starting in June.  

The letter, which was also sent to federal communications minister Paul Fletcher, called on NBN Co “to meet its social obligation to all Australians and retrospectively” by adjusting its current and much-maligned COVID relief program. 

NBN Co also hit back at comments made by Vocus at the time whereby CEO Kevin Russell said the broadband builder was “profiteering” from the lockdowns. 

“To suggest NBN Co is somehow ‘profiting from COVID’ is incorrect and completely counter to the facts,” NBN Co said in a statement. 

“Far from profiteering, NBN Co’s net revenue reduction and additional capacity-related network investment has cost the company more than $100 million in the support we have provided to internet retailers to enable them to provide Australian households more data than ever before during COVID.” 

A company spokesperson also said that it is “unfair and unrealistic to expect Australian taxpayers to offer additional subsidies beyond what is already in place to support and underpin the profits of retailers”. 

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Tags Telstranbn cooptusTPGVocusAussie Broadbandcovid

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