NBN Co’s 250 Mbps and gigabit growth finally clear

The net effect of NBN Co’s free try-before-you-buy upgrade to its higher speed tiers is finally clearer, as the impact of a long discount period fades.

The “Focus on Fast” marketing campaign offered customers a six-month free upgrade, pricing 100 Mbps and above at the wholesale level.

The campaign also offered retail service providers (RSPs) a potential Connectivity Virtual Circuit (CVC) bargain, as higher plans come with more bundled CVC bandwidth that could temporarily offset the need for buy more.

Since the campaign started on February 1 last yearthe bottom line was unclear: that is, would customers upgraded to higher speed tiers for free pay the difference when the campaign expires?

The effects of the campaign also continued beyond the initial six-month promotional window, as some providers left him later than the others to make the upgrades, which means they had the six months of discounts and the potential bonus CVC stream during the second half of 2021, instead of the first half of the year.

There was also another discount on 250 Mbps and above services that started when “Focus on Fast” ended.

Discounts and free upgrades resulted in a large amount of movement between NBN speed tiers.

This is recorded in the ACCC’s quarterly data releases, but the “Focus on Fast” campaign polluted these numbers, as it was unclear whether customers were actually paying to be on higher speed tiers, or were only temporarily on these levels due to a free offer.

NBN Co partially responded to this before going into interim mode ahead of the federal election: it says in march that 145,100 100Mbps users were moved to 250Mbps services for free as part of the campaign, and that 92,200 – or 64% – chose to stay on 250Mbps.

He didn’t provide numbers for product upgrades to gigabit, which NBN Co calls “home ultrafast.”

The latest version of ACCC data [pdf] shows – for the first time since December 2020 – a clearer view of which customers are actually paying for the speed levels they are at.

To facilitate reading, iTnews collected the speed level numbers of nearly two years of ACCC quarterly reportsdating from before “Focus on Fast” and following its development.

Across all services in operation (SIO), the patterns show that all clients clearly did not stay on the highest speed levels – but by the same token, some did.

NBN Co had less than 10,000 “ultra-fast home” users – up to gigabit – when “Focus on Fast” began; after the campaign, there are 43,846 customers on the landing.

At the 250 Mbps level, active services went from 13,838 before “Focus on Fast” to 161,466.

The 100 Mbps trend is particularly interesting, as these customers would have been prime candidates for upgrades under a program that priced (from a wholesale perspective) 100 Mbps services, 250 Mbps and up to gigabit.

As expected, the numbers show a large immediate exodus of customers from the 100 Mbps tier in the quarter that “Focus on Fast” went into effect; the number of 100 Mbps users for over a year returned to about the same level, registering a net addition of 86,621 users.

As for the RSPs who participated in Focus on Fast, they all seem to have benefited in one way or another, either in terms of temporarily boosting HVAC or establishing a higher level user base.

With the exception of Aussie Broadband, no other RSP had a notable user base in the 250 Mbps and up to gigabit levels prior to the campaign.

This has changed considerably.

Telstra is one of the biggest beneficiaries: 2,117 250Mbps users entered ‘Focus on Fast’ and now has a user base of 87,275 on the tier.

TPG had less than 1,000 250Mbps users and now has 38,604 – although that’s about 10% of the users it tiered at the height of the “Focus on Fast” campaign.

Optus went from 395 250Mbps users before the campaign to 9,832; at the height of the campaign, it put 217,355 users on the 250 Mbps tier, meaning about 5% stayed.

Vocus managed to increase its 250 Mbps user base tenfold over the course of the campaign to 5291 users.

Aussie Broadband has also seen strong growth in the 250 Mbps tier, although it has really excelled – together with TPG – in establishing a significant user base on the “home ultra-fast” tier all the way up to the gigabit level.

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