Perhaps our hopes and dreams for a truly national broadband network were a touch unrealistic. Australia’s political landscape was never going to permit the investment needed to deliver us gigabit connections any time soon, but perhaps we might’ve got better than we do today had things been different.
In more recent times, NBN Co has been looking for more ways to increase the profitability of the network – one of its key requirements is to return a profit to the government (and thus the taxpayer). If it can reduce complaints about the network in the process, so much the better. To try and do so, it’s come up with some terrible ideas, like a mooted Netflix tax which would’ve priced video streaming traffic differently, and fortunately that idea disappeared as quickly as it needed to.
The more likely plan, which has been in discussion for a couple of months now, is to offer more affordable plans with the downstream bandwidth consumers really want, and less upstream bandwidth that – let’s face it – fewer consumers actually need.
New wholesale pricing gives us a bit of insight into these plans. For example, the proposed 100/20 plan would cost $58/ month, $7 less than the 100/40 plan with half the upload. Similar plans are proposed for a new 250/25 for $68 instead of a 250/100 plan and 1000/50 option for $80 instead of 1000/400 options.
Here’s the question: will these new plans be options or will plans with larger upload bandwidth eventually get cut to “simplify” the NBN offerings? Lessons in carrier space suggest that these plans will certainly last a while before being ultimately simplified. Elsewhere, there is a strong tech trend of companies using user data to offer reduced services and features because the majority of consumers don’t access advanced options.
We understand that some NBN customers don’t need a lot of upstream bandwidth. However, there are many customers who would and we can see a world where the majority of consumer behaviour drives the NBN to cancel more affordable plans with larger upload bandwidth, forcing those who need the larger up-pipe to migrate to more expensive plans.
While we encourage more choices in the market and a lowering of the cost to access the NBN, we absolutely wouldn’t support anything that planned to reduce the already insufficient offerings from the NBN.