Unusual times call for unusual strategies and that stands true for NBN Co and select retail service providers & partners in the current situation. The change in our Internet usage over the past few weeks has put increasing pressure on infrastructure, so much so that with key partners NBN Co is looking to implement “unusual traffic management and capacity optimisation techniques”.

The report comes from IT News which reads:

A working group comprising NBN Co, Telstra, Optus, Vodafone, TPG and Vocus has been set up and given permission to collaborate and take extraordinary action.

That permission comes in the form of an Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) interim authorisation, unveiled today.

The group will discuss and implement non-compulsory measures that retailers can opt-out of, aimed at continued operation of internet services during the pandemic, as well as customer support in the form of hardship measures.. These measures will take into account not just the change in our usage patterns – huge numbers of users utilising home services where previously they would not – on our home Internet services but also the congestion this causes on core infrastructure.

NBN Co has seen an absolute surge in usage of broadband during daytime hours that have not – previously – seen much demand at all.

Video conferencing, video streaming and accessing cloud-based office applications have driven a large increase in data demand on the NBN access network as more Australians turn to their broadband services for work, education and entertainment.

It comes as more Australians self-isolate and increasingly rely on services over the nbn to remain connected to work, school and higher education, entertainment, family and friends.

You can see from this graph the huge surge in demand for NBN traffic:

NBN Co welcomed the – hopefully short term – changes to allow it to better manage the surge in demand, in a statement released this week:

We are pleased that the ACCC has moved swiftly to grant the necessary permission that allows NBN Co to continue to lead and co-ordinate the whole-of-industry response within the telecommunications and communications sector, and we recognise and appreciate the resolve and commitment of our industry partners during this time.

We’re now at a point where there is a notable impact on our broadband services and the early steps were taken mid-March to prevent the collapse of services. This was by way of NBN Co boosted available bandwidth by 40% on an as-needs basis. A document from NBN Co said that the capacity optimisation strategies may directly or indirectly temporarily prevent, restrict or limit the supply of certain telecommunications services by group members to end-users in Australia.

This has a huge potential impact with a number of streaming service providers already reducing the video quality they’re delivering.

While the likes of YouTube, Netflix and Stan have already been requested to do so, other measures to reduce bandwidth consumption are unknown.