NBN Co rules out the Netflix tax, proposes three new high-speed plans

It seems the company behind Australia’s national broadband network might have come to its senses, with NBN Co ruling out a mooted “Netflix tax”, and instead proposing some new plan / pricing options in a pricing consultation paper released today.

Previously, NBN Co had floated the idea of changing the price for video streaming data, and unsurprisingly this discussion mostly centered on what a poor idea it would’ve been to implement. Not only would it run roughshod across Net Neutrality (which Australia seems to want, albeit not legislated for), but it would also potentially cost streaming customers more for – in effect – consuming the same product (data down the wire) depending on where that data came from.

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Fortunately, this plan was recognised for what it was – a terrible idea – with NBN Co chief customer officer today confirming that the company had no video streaming-focused changes being contemplated any further.

However, NBN Co has proposed some new options to better price the NBN for everyone, and these are some changes we can almost unreservedly get behind.

For starters, the current NBN plans are (broadly) in four tiers:


Current Plan Matrix Proposed Plans Matrix
New Basic 12 / 1 Mbps
New reduced price plan
Basic 12 / 1 Mbps Basic 12 / 1 Mbps
May be ceased
Standard 25 / 5 Mbps Standard 25 / 5 Mbps
Reduced price of existing plan
Standard Plus 50 / 20 Mbps Standard Plus 50 / 20 Mbps
Premium 100 / 40 Mbps Premium 100 / 40 Mbps
New 100 / 20 Mbps plan
New 250 / 25 Mbps plan
New 1 Gbps / 50 Mbps plan

One of the new plans has been discussed previously – the 100 / 20 Mbps option above – as a way of getting people access to the faster download speeds offered by NBN Premium plans without having to provision quite as much upstream bandwidth which (according to NBN Co) most users don’t really utilise anyway.

The good thing about this new plan in particular is that it would broadly be available to anyone connected to the NBN using today’s technology – it doesn’t require any changes to implement.

The two other new plans – a 250 / 25 plan and 1000 / 50 plan – would require changes in the technology offering for most users; only those on NBN HFC and NBN FTTP would be able to access these speeds today, with FTTC customers able to access these speeds too with upgrades to street DPU technology. Unfortunately, FTTN and FTTB customers may miss out here unless changes are made, but none are (as yet) proposed.

These plans aren’t concrete yet, but they give retail service providers (RSPs) further options to throw into the product mix offered to their customers. I personally can see a lot of appeal to a 1 Gbps / 50 Mbps plan, and those who don’t have higher demands for upload speed would really welcome the 250 Mbps plan which is clearly aimed at content consumers.

It feels like a while ago now, but NBN Co has form for improving the plan offerings available to end customers in the past. When it cut the pricing of 50 Mbps plans last year, most RSPs upgraded their customer base from the 25 Mbps plans to 50 Mbps plans at the same price, and there’s a good number that won’t even sell the 25 Mbps plans anymore.

Part of the current proposal will see the cost of 25 Mbps plans dropped, so that more price-sensitive customers will be able to access a higher speed without necessarily shelling out for a 50 Mbps plan. Equally, there’ll be a new low-speed 12 / 1 Mbps plan introduced with a starting (wholesale) price of just $22.50 a month.

All the new plans – and the rest of the pricing proposal from NBN Co – are subject to consultation with RSPs and government, no doubt, though NBN Co has indicated it wants to have these new plans (or plans very similar to what’s proposed) available to RSPs for sale to end users by mid-2020.

Chris Rowland: @ozcjr Chris has been at the forefront of smartphone reporting in Australia since smartphones were a thing, and has used mobile phones since they came with giant lead-acid batteries that were "transportable" and were carried in a shoulder bag. Today, Chris publishes one of Australia's most popular technology websites, Ausdroid. His interests include mobile (of course), as well as connected technology and how it can make all our lives easier.

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