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NBN Speeds Begin To Recover From COVID-19 Demand

According to the ACCC’s Measuring Broadband Australia report, NBN speeds have begun to recover from the spike in demand and lower speeds brought on by COVID-19 restrictions during March.

At the onset of the COVID-19 lockdowns, with more Australians working and learning from home, NBN speeds and performance declined significantly. NBN Co’s 50Mps and 100Mbps speed tiers respectively dropped by 14% and 23%.

To mitigate this, NBN Co offered retail service providers (RSPs) 40% extra network capacity for free, which has proven very effective.

These efforts have also been assisted by streaming providers lowering their bandwidth, which reduces picture quality slightly, but eases demand on the NBN, particularly during busy periods.

Measuring Broadband Australia report (Feb-Apr 2020)

For example, YouTube and Netflix have both reduced the bandwidth streams of their videos. While Netflix has begun to restore bitrates to normal levels in Europe, they have not begun to do this in Australia yet.

A Netflix spokesperson told ChannelNews: “As network conditions improve we will begin lifting the bit rate caps we introduced in March on a country-by-country basis. In the last two months we’ve added more than four times the normal capacity to deal with the increased demand and help maintain the quality of our service for members.”

“Broadband services have experienced unprecedented demand during the COVID-19 pandemic, as many people and small businesses have been working from home and making increased use of telehealth, online learning and other services,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.

“The most recent data from our Measuring Broadband Australia volunteers shows daytime NBN speeds have not been impacted by this additional demand, and evening speeds are mostly holding up well,” Sims said.

The Measuring Broadband Australia report also reveals that the cheaper NBN50 service (offering speeds of 50 Mbps) is generally adequate to support most households. The NBN100 service (with speeds of 100 Mbps) is roughly $20 more expensive than the NBN50 service.

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