NBN bombshell announcement: Finally, high-speed, affordable broadband.

NBN Co’s groundbreaking plan to boost broadband speeds across Australia is finally delivering the first-class broadband service that Australia as a modern society needs. The announcement has captured the attention of millions, promising to make its most popular plan five times faster without any additional charges. This initiative, aimed at meeting the escalating demand for data driven by high-definition streaming and remote work, will see the current 100/20 Mbps Home Fast product skyrocket to an impressive 500/50 Mbps. Moreover, the Home Superfast product will be tripled from 250/25 Mbps to 750/50 Mbps, ushering in a new era of internet connectivity for households and businesses nationwide. Another major ‘killer application’ for broadband will be the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) services. They require very large volumes of bandwidth capacity, with this becoming available AI is also set to skyrocket through Australian society and economy.

It is interesting to note that what is going to be delivered now was the ultimate goal of the NBN when it was launched 15 years ago. Obviously, the company needed time to build the infrastructure for it, but it looks like they are now confident enough to offer these massive increases in broadband capacity. At no extra cost, this will also be a massive boon for the nation’s productivity as well as to propel a range of high-quality services in medical applications, hi-res imaging, software production, and so on.

Scheduled for implementation by the end of the year, these accelerated speeds will benefit around nine million broadband customers with access to a fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) or hybrid fibre coaxial (HFC) NBN connection, encompassing the majority of Australian users. Additionally, customers served by other technologies will also have the opportunity to upgrade, ensuring inclusivity and equal access to enhanced internet speeds for all.

One of the most remarkable aspects of NBN Co’s proposal is its commitment to providing these accelerated speeds at no added wholesale cost to retailers. This move not only eliminates the financial burden on consumers but also signals a potential resolution to the ongoing “price wars” between NBN Co and major retailers such as Telstra, Optus, and TPG. By prioritising affordability and accessibility, NBN Co aims to foster collaboration within the industry and deliver tangible benefits to users across the country.

The proposal has reignited debates surrounding the NBN’s role as a political issue, particularly in light of the destructive Coalition government’s decision in 2013 to abandon Labor’s full-fibre rollout in favour of a second-rate service, which in the end proved to not only be worse but also more expensive as NBN Co was rapidly forced to abandon the Coalition’s policy and go back to the original all fibre approach. As people such as myself have been mentioning since 2005, the NBN is an indispensable part of Australia’s economy and its society. The real benefits of the NBN are not measured in revenues and profits to the industry but in the massive financial benefits to its people, businesses and institutions by using a truly high-speed broadband network.

As data demand and usage continue to skyrocket, NBN Co now seems to be able to offer the service we as a country need, recognising the importance of providing users with access to faster internet speeds. Because of the prohibitive costs, many customers have remained on the same broadband plan for years, despite the exponential growth in data consumption. By delivering accelerated speeds at no extra cost, NBN Co aims to ensure that users can enjoy a seamless internet experience without breaking the bank.

The company’s proposal has garnered support from Communications Minister Michelle Rowland, who emphasised the importance of reliable, high-speed internet as essential infrastructure for the 21st century. This will be quite a challenge.

While this bombshell announcement is fantastic news for users, it will be a headache for the industry. After many years of fighting the high wholesale costs of the NBN company, they finally received some certainty a few months ago with a new wholesale price regime from the company. This required them to reorganise their systems and services to implement these changes, only to find out that all of this can be scrapped again as the new system will totally change the industry’s landscape again. It will also have far-reaching consequences for competition as the retail providers will have to totally rewrite their business plans based on these far reaching commercial changes.

Nevertheless, NBN Co’s proposal represents a major milestone in Australia’s digital transformation journey, finally delivering the sort of service a modern society as Australia needs with the promise to deliver faster, more reliable internet speeds to millions of users across the country. By prioritising affordability and collaboration, NBN Co is poised to reshape the broadband landscape, laying the foundation for a more connected and prosperous future.

Paul Budde

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