NBN 100 could soon be high-speed NBN 500 at no extra cost

NBN high-speed upgrade plans
Image: NBN Co.

Faster high-speed internet at no extra cost could soon be a reality, thanks to a new proposal from NBN Co.

Reflecting Australians’ changing internet habits, NBN Co has proposed upgrading the increasingly popular NBN 100 speed tier, also known as NBN Home Fast, to 500Mbps download speeds – without increasing wholesale prices to retailers. This proposal would also see upload speeds jump to 50Mbps, currently reserved for the fastest NBN plans.

Also part of NBN Co’s plans is upgrading NBN Home Superfast plans from 250/25Mbps to 750/50, and boosting Home Ultrafast up to 1000/100. These increases would apply to those with access to either Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) or Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC) connections. If you take a look at the current cheapest NBN plans, getting five times the speed for the same price sounds like a terrific deal.

Meanwhile, to help more Australians get FTTP, NBN Co proposes reducing the threshold for upgrading from Fibre to the Node (FTTN) or Fibre to the Curb (FTTC). As it currently stands, you need to sign up for a Home Superfast plan to receive an FTTP upgrade. Under the proposed changes, Home Fast customers would also be included. Of course, that’s reliant on being in an eligible FTTP upgrade area, which you can check via NBN Co’s website.

Driving the high-speed NBN push is increased demand. According to NBN Co, Australian households download an average of 443GB each month across 22 connected devices. Compare that to 10 years ago, when 40GB across seven devices was the average.

4K streaming, remote working, and video games are big factors, with Fortnite and Call of Duty contributing to last year’s record traffic day. NBN Co’s latest announcement even references a Fortnite patch to illustrate the difference between proposed internet speeds.

Faster high-speed NBN details still in progress

Before you get too excited, the proposed changes aren’t happening overnight. NBN Co is currently consulting with internet service providers (ISPs), with the window for feedback closing on 19 April 2024.

All going well, it’s expected that nine million homes and businesses will get the faster speeds by December 2024, expanding to 10.2 million by the following year. Before it happens, ISPs need to be capable of delivering.

In a media statement, Aussie Broadband Group Managing Director Phillip Britt took a measured stance on the proposal.

“…it could represent one of the most exciting steps in technology adoption for Australian households and businesses,” Britt said. “It’s essential, however, that these announcements are paired with more investment in fixed broadband for regional Australians so the digital inclusion gap isn’t widened further.”

“By switching customers over at the wholesale level, smaller RSPs may miss out on the opportunity to compete for those customers which could harm retail-side innovation in the Australian broadband market.”

TPG Telecom also provided a statement to Gizmodo Australia, labelling NBN Co’s proposal “a positive opportunity for those who can access it”. It argued those who cannot afford faster plans or upgrading home networking equipment to take advantage of higher speeds shouldn’t be left behind.

“If NBN was genuine about addressing affordability and high-speed access for all Australians, it would extend these benefits to the 70 per cent of NBN customers on its entry-level 12, 25, and 50Mbps plans,” TPG’s statement continued.

On the surface, faster high-speed NBN internet seems like a natural progression in line with demand. In the meantime, there are still plenty of details to sort out, including fair competition among retailers, and equitable access for Australians.

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