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NBN Co & Retail Service Providers Form Working Group To Meet Demand And Support Consumers

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NBN Co and five of the country’s major retail service providers (RSPs) – Telstra, Optus, Vodafone Hutchinson, TPG and Vocus – have been granted interim authorisation by the ACCC to form a special working group during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The group will share information and coordinate strategies to manage congestion, meet increased and changing demand patterns, and support customers.

Earlier this week it was revealed that daytime traffic on the NBN has increased by 70%, while traffic on telecos’ networks is up 40%.

Under the interim authorisation, NBN Co and the five RSPs plan to provide urgent support for consumers and small business customers that are experiencing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the ultimate goal of keeping consumers and customers connected to vital communications services throughout the COVID-19 crisis.

“As it has with a number of industries already, the ACCC stands ready to assist telecommunications providers with approval of any coordinated measures that are urgent and necessary during this crisis,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said. “Online services and connections are now more important than ever, as Australians seek to stay productive and engaged, undertake home schooling, telehealth and access other services. The ability to do all this will also assist people to comply with increasingly strict social distancing measures.”

As part of the authorisation, NBN Co must inform the ACCC and any non-member RSPs about any decision made by the working group that may affect them.

Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts Paul Fletcher recommended the formation of a special working group, following an industry round table held in March.

A spokesperson for the Ministry said, “We welcome the ACCC’s interim authorisation of Australia’s telecommunications networks working closely together during these extraordinary times tackling COVID-19.  Greater cooperation and coordination across retail service providers and NBN is necessary at this time so that they can manage and optimise network performance, and quickly resolve any issues for consumers.”

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