AUSTRALIANS switching to the heavily criticised National Broadband Network are now more than twice as likely to be on a 50Mbps speed plan or higher than in 2017.

However, new internal data released today shows low speeds are still the most popular.

The stats reveal that the number of Australian homes and businesses connected to higher speed plans over the NBN broadband access network has more than doubled - and more than one million people have upgraded their internet speeds in the last four months.

One of the problems with the roll out of the network has been that 85 per cent of Australians have been choosing cheap low-speed tiers of 25Mbps or 12Mbps, but aggressive discounts on the prices charged by the NBN Co as the wholesaler has moved this up to 64 per cent.

The NBN is more than half way built. Picture: Supplied.
The NBN is more than half way built. Picture: Supplied.

Labelled 'Focus on 50', the promotion provides retailers with discounted pricing on higher speed NBN plans as well as a 50 per cent boost of additional bandwidth.

However, the most popular speed is still the slower 25Mbps, which accounts for up 33.9 per cent of plans bought from the NBN Co by telcos in March. This is down from 54.8 per cent in November.

The highest speed tier, 100Mbps, fell 0.7 per cent to 11 per cent over the same time period. The lowest, 12Mbps, declined 0.6 per cent to 28.9 per cent.

The promising statistics come after the company building Australia's broadband network announced last week it would do what many have been calling for - it would increase the number of FTTC, or fibre-to-the-curb, connections in the rollout.

The FTTC connections (previously called fibre-to-the-distribution point) run fibre closer to the home and therefore uses less old copper wiring to make the final connection.

As a result, the connection performs better than those more reliant on copper such as FTTN connections which have, for some users, failed to achieve the top speeds they were theoretically designed to deliver.

NBN boss Bill Morrow, who this month announced he would be stepping down by the end of the year, said the company was "excited to announce we will be expanding FTTC to cover an additional 440,000 (premises) in areas where some long-copper FTTN and new HFC lead-ins were previously planned".

The NBN boss, Bill Morrow, is set to leave the top job before the rollout is complete in 2020. Picture: Chris Pavlich
The NBN boss, Bill Morrow, is set to leave the top job before the rollout is complete in 2020. Picture: Chris Pavlich

The NBN said it would expand its FTTC footprint by an additional 440,000 homes and businesses, taking the total planned FTTC footprint closer to 1.5 million premises.

The network's chief customer officer Brad Whitcomb said NBN plans to start selling the new wholesale pricing options from May 2018 after industry consultation.

"Our team continues to work closely with internet providers to deliver better broadband speeds for Australians connected to services over the NBN access network," he said.

"Three months ago we had less than one in 15 users connected to our 'sweet spot' wholesale 50Mbps plans - today we have more than one in four signed-up to them for better value than what they would have previously been paying.

"Not only are more people starting to experience the benefits of connecting to high speed plans but our work with industry continues to deliver a world class network performance as the average network bandwidth congestion per Australian home is consistently sitting below 30 minutes per week compared with more than six hours per week this time last year.

He said the company's new insights show that people who have connected to higher speed plans are now happier with their experience and are able to better enjoy the benefits of fast broadband such as streaming using multiple devices, working from home and access to online education resources.

FTTC connections run fibre closer to the final destination before connecting to a small box in the ground.
FTTC connections run fibre closer to the final destination before connecting to a small box in the ground.

"With our new wholesale broadband bundles now set to launch in early May, we encourage people to shop around and speak to their internet providers about the plans available as well as what their usage is during peak evening periods to ensure they are getting the best value service," he said.

"The results from our latest monthly progress report show we've listened to the community's feedback and are working hard alongside industry to make significant steps to improve customer experience but we know there's more to be done."

The rollout of the NBN access network is more than half way built with more than 3.7 million homes and businesses already connected. NBN Co remains on track to complete the rollout of the network and connect eight million homes and businesses by the end of 2020.



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