Close to 4.5 million Australian residents now have access to an NBN broadband connection at home, with over 50 per cent of these opting for plans with speeds of 50Mbps or more, according to the latest Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) quarterly Wholesale Market Indicators Report.

The ACCC’s report for the September quarter shows the number of NBN residential broadband connections rose from about 4.1 million last quarter (up almost 8.6 per cent).

More than 2.2 million consumers are now on these high-speed plans, an increase of 20 per cent on the previous quarter. Of these, there are now 1.8 million services on the 50Mbps speed tier, a more than a ten-fold increase compared to about 159,000 residential customers on 50Mbps plans in December 2017.

This reflects NBN Co’s pricing strategies to encourage Retail Service Providers (RSPs) and their customers to higher speed plans, as well as various other initiatives including the ACCC’s advertising speed guidance project.

“The NBN Co’s Focus on 50 promotion has demonstrated that RSPs and their customers are willing to move to higher speed plans if the incentives are right,” ACCC Chair, Rod Sims, said.

“We expect these incentives will continue to operate as NBN Co transitions to longer term bundled pricing for the higher speed plans.”

However, at the same time, the number of customers choosing the most basic NBN services also continues to rise. Just over 1.2 million consumers are on the lowest 12Mbps speed plan (up by 4.3 per cent).

“Consumers on 12/1 plans still represent more than a quarter of all NBN services. It is important that NBN Co recognises the needs of this significant cohort of consumers for an affordable and reliable service,” Mr Sims said.

Average connectivity virtual circuits (CVC) per user also continued to rise this quarter, up by 2.9 per cent, from 1.66Mbps in June 2018 to 1.71Mbps in September 2018. In March 2017 it was 1.00Mbps.

“It is important RSPs maintain sufficient CVC capacity to ensure consumers get the service they have paid for, particularly in the busy period,” Mr Sims said.

“The ACCC will continue to monitor CVC utilisation under its record-keeping powers. The ACCC’s Monitoring Broadband Australia Program will also continue to rank RSPs by whether they are providing the speeds expected by consumers.”

This quarter’s report also includes, for the first time, the number of services provided over Fibre to the Curb (FTTC) technology, with 39,204 FTTC services in operation at the end of September.

Overall market shares remained relatively stable; smaller RSPs increased their market share slightly from 6.1 per cent to 6.3 per cent (adding about 27,000 more services).

All 121 points of interconnect (POI) had at least six access seeker groups (including Telstra, Optus, TPG, Vocus and Aussie Broadband) acquiring NBN services directly from NBN Co. There were seven access seeker groups at 118 of the 121 POIs.

The ACCC will continue to monitor the evolution of the NBN broadband market to help consumers make an informed choice about broadband plans.

Key points from the September 2018 report:

  • The number of 50Mbps services continued to increase, reaching more than 1.8 million  services at the end of September, a 26 per cent increase on the June quarter
  • Plans with speeds of 50Mbps services or more now account for just under 50 per cent of all NBN residential broadband services
  • At the end of September 2018, NBN Co was supplying a total of 4,488,295 wholesale residential broadband access services (up from 4,133,791 in the June quarter)
  • FTTC services were reported by NBN for the first time. Over 39,000 services provided over this new technology were in operation at the end of the quarter
  • There were at least six access seeker groups present at all 121 POIs
  • The average CVC per customer increased an additional 2.9 per cent

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