Coronavirus (COVID-19) and nbn: latest updates, working from home tips and FAQs

In this blog, we’ll provide updates on coronavirus (COVID-19) as it relates to the nbn™ broadband access network.

On this page:

Small Biz Matters with Chief Customer Officer – Business, Paul Tyler
nbn increases Sky Muster™ data allowances, enhances Sky Muster™ Plus
nbn waives additional wholesale capacity charges of up to 40 per cent for three months
nbn responds to increase in residential data demand
Working from home tips
Your FAQs answered

Small Biz Matters with Chief Customer Officer – Business, Paul Tyler

Friday 27 March 2020 at 1:40PM

To provide updates on how the nbn™ broadband access network is handling changing connectivity demands as businesses transition their employees to work remotely, our Chief Customer Officer – Business, Paul Tyler, recently appeared on the Small Biz Matters podcast.

Chatting with host Alexi Boyd, Paul covers topics including:

  • how nbn is ensuring its network stays ahead of demand
  • differences between residential nbn™ plans and business nbn™ plans
  • how users can get the most from their connection when working from home

nbn increases Sky Muster™ data allowances, enhances Sky Muster™ Plus

Wednesday 25 March 2020 at 11:15AM

At NBN Co, we are committed to supporting the needs of Australians in the time of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, no matter where they live or work. As part of this commitment, last week, we announced a capacity boost across the nbn™ access network for three months, to help Retail Service Providers (RSPs) support customers.    

Today, we are unveiling new measures to support increasing capacity and data demand for our satellite services in regional and remote Australia.

These initiatives have been designed to support the requirement expected to be created as more people in regional and remote communities work from home and more children study remotely in the coming weeks.

Two key measures will see:

a) Customers on standard nbn™ Sky Muster™ services have their data download limits increased significantly

b) Customers on nbn™ Sky Muster™ Plus services have an increased range of applications not count towards monthly data quotas

Data download limits on nbn™ Sky Muster increased

From 31 March 2020, for a period of up to three months, nbn will increase the download data limits that apply to RSPs for the standard nbn™ Sky Muster™ service. This will provide an additional 45GB* for each standard nbn™ Sky Muster™ service at no additional cost to those RSPs to provide to their customers.

This additional 45GB will allow RSPs, in some cases, to effectively double the average monthly download limits on retail plans offered to many of their customers.

For an RSP’s standard nbn™ Sky Muster™ services, the average wholesale download limits will increase to 90GB* of data on average, depending on the services that the RSP has ordered from nbn and how each RSP passes on these benefits to their customers.

This offer is an effort to support the anticipated higher volumes of traffic as people work from home and conduct schooling remotely.

Expansion of unmetered content on nbn™ Sky Muster™ Plus

Effective 1 April 2020, on an ongoing basis, enhancements for nbn™ Sky Muster™ Plus plans will include an expansion of unmetered content.

Once these enhancements take effect, all traffic on nbn™ Sky Muster Plus plans will be unmetered, except for video streaming and traffic via a Virtual Private Network (VPN), both of which will continue to be metered.

Unmetered activities currently include web browsing, email and operating system updates. As part of these further enhancements, common social media applications such as Skype and Facetime will also be unmetered.

These are just a few examples of where customers can now have additional peace of mind that staying in touch with family, friends and colleagues will not count as part of their monthly data allowance.**

In addition to this expansion of unmetered activities, nbn is also introducing a number of other enhancements to nbn™ Sky Muster™ Plus plans, including:

  • a new 25GB+ entry plan offering 25GB of peak data and 25GB of off-peak data for video streaming and VPN traffic, which will improve accessibility for lighter users (available from 1 April);
  • functionality to give RSPs greater flexibility to customise the data allowances on their retail plans in increments of 5GB (starting from 25GB of peak data and 25GB of off-peak data, up to 150GB of peak and 150GB of off-peak data) (available from 1 April); and
  • a new ‘top-up’ feature, which will provide RSPs with the option of offering ‘top up’ data, should their customers use their monthly metered data allowance (available in coming months). 

nbn has been working on these enhancements since the initial launch of nbn™ Sky Muster™ Plus in August 2019.

nbn Chief Development Officer, Regional and Remote, Gavin Williams said:

“Our enhanced nbn™ Sky Muster™ Plus plans will help Australians be more in touch with loved ones, work remotely, use internet banking, and access important health and education services.

"We want to reassure regional and remote communities across Australia that you are a priority for nbn."

"We want to reassure regional and remote communities across Australia that you are a priority for nbn."
"nbn will continue to closely monitor data usage together with internet retailers, and will seek to implement any additional measures required where available including monitoring of the peak times, to support customers during these uncertain times."
Read the full media release.

* nbn intends to engage with RSPs and review demand on the nbn™ Sky Muster™ service following the data increase on a monthly basis and adjust the appropriate level of allocation if required.

** Certain unmetered activities may be shaped to wholesale speeds of 256Kbps between the hours of 4pm and 11pm daily, such as peer to peer traffic, uploads and downloads to cloud storage platforms, PC and smartphone operating system updates, software and gaming updates, and internet activity related to applications which nbn cannot identify.

nbn waives additional wholesale capacity charges of up to 40 per cent for three months

Wednesday 18 March 2020 at 4:40PM

NBN Co today announced it will waive charges for additional capacity of up to 40 per cent to Retail Service Providers (RSPs) for at least three months to help them support Australian residential and business nbn customers. The additional capacity pricing relief will apply to all fixed line, fixed wireless and satellite nbn technologies.

From Monday 23 March, NBN Co will immediately offer retailers access to pricing relief for up to 40 per cent more Connectivity Virtual Circuit (CVC) capacity as required to help meet demand over time at no additional cost.

Today’s announcement follows weeks of detailed planning and assessment by nbn’s engineers on the network’s capabilities to effectively meet Australia’s growing broadband requirements as more people choose to spend more time at home working, studying, shopping, and streaming entertainment content.

NBN Co plans to introduce this offer from Monday 23 March and will set the CVC usage charges applied in February 2020 as the baseline, waiving any additional changes for overage that would otherwise be incurred by RSPs over the next three months, and will continue to monitor the situation in terms of any further decision making required.

NBN Co is advising residential and business customers to ensure they are on the right retail broadband plan to meet their needs. Information about the capabilities of different retail speed tiers is available on the nbn website and on retailers’ websites. Customers can check their retail account details if they are unsure about their chosen retail speed tier plan and should contact their retailer if they wish to upgrade to a higher speed service.

nbn Chief Executive Officer Stephen Rue said:

“We have been in regular talks with retailers over the past couple of weeks to understand the wholesale network support they require to meet the needs of more Australians working from home and as individuals, couples and families across the nation are spending more time at home, and naturally wanting to stay productive and connected to family and friends.

“We’re proud to play our part to keep Australians connected and productive through this crisis. Data carriage on the nbn has already increased by around 5 – 6 per cent over the last few days as customers have increasingly started to work from home. The nbn is performing well, and we have not seen or experienced any significant traffic congestion on the network.

“We are closely following events unfolding in other parts of the world and we have taken decisive action to incrementally offer pricing relief for up to 40 per cent more capacity. This is equivalent to the higher end of increased data bandwidth requirements that we have seen in countries such as Italy, which have mandated work from home arrangements.

“The additional capacity pricing relief will be offered to RSPs at no additional cost and will help support significantly greater data use on the network throughout the day and during peak evening times. The offer will be made available to the industry from Monday in time to meet the steadily growing data consumption patterns of residential and business customers.

“NBN Co will play the critical role it was set up to fulfil, ensuring Australia’s wholesale digital infrastructure is robust, resilient and reliable. We are confident that this immediate response will make a significant difference.

“We are also mindful that these are unprecedented times and remain vigilant to any unexpected market and usage changes. We will continue to work closely with retailers to support Australians during this time.”

View this media release

nbn responds to increase in residential data demand

Monday 16 March 2020 at 4:48PM

Offers advice for getting better internet performance at home

NBN Co is responding to a shift in Australia’s internet usage patterns that will occur as more people choose to work, study, shop and stream more content at home as the nation responds to the impact of COVID-19 (the Coronavirus). During this period, digital connectivity will also be a primary channel for people to stay in touch with family and friends.

NBN Co’s team of data scientists and network engineers have been studying data consumption patterns in other countries that have been significantly impacted by the pandemic in recent weeks. At the same time, the company’s engineering teams have been planning for, and strengthening the network to help meet residential data demand that will likely surge, based on overseas examples, at different times of the day and night.

NBN Co is well-advanced with its contingency plans and will incrementally increase its data capacity allocation to retailers to accommodate the expected growth in residential data demand. It is requesting that retailers place their forward orders for CVC (capacity) in the normal way, and NBN Co will increase capacity as required to meet demand.

The national broadband network is dimensioned to exceed the nightly peak busy hour throughput requirements from our customers. NBN Co also routinely plans for days of exceptionally high traffic and is working with our European colleagues to understand the potential impacts of isolation events on broadband capacity.

On Saturday 14 March, with many Australians spending more time at home, network traffic was up by more than 5 per cent on the previous Saturday. NBN Co will continue to monitor and augment the network as quickly as possible to meet potential demand surges. The nbn’s peak throughput is typically at around 9pm and, by comparison, during standard business hours of 9-5pm, network traffic is usually around half that of the evening peak.

The company is also planning to limit non-essential maintenance to minimise scheduled, planned outages in the weeks ahead to maintain network availability as much as possible.

nbn Chief Executive Officer Stephen Rue said:

“The nbn is part of Australia’s critical infrastructure, and the role of the network has never been more important than now and what we see unfolding over the weeks ahead. For many Australians, the nbn and other broadband and mobile networks will become the primary channel for work, study, entertainment, ordering food and maintaining contact with the outside world.

“As a telecommunications industry, we will work together to keep Australians connected and productive through this crisis. These are unprecedented times and we are already seeing a steady increase in demand on the nbn, and this is set to continue. In terms of the expected requests for additional CVC capacity, we will work with the Industry to find the best solution. Clearly we all need to play our part.”

“We are actively working with retailers and have the complete support of our government stakeholders to ensure we do everything possible to optimise the nbn to support the expected increase in residential use.

“We are in the fortunate position that more than 90% per cent of the national broadband network rollout has been delivered across the country, so the vast majority of Australians already have access to fast, reliable, secure broadband, which will serve them should they need or want to spend more time at home.”
Read the full media release.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and nbn: working from home tips and FAQs

Monday 16 March 2020 at 2:50PM

Whether you’re working from home by choice or by necessity, make the most of your nbn™ connection – and workday – with these tips.

While working from home (WFH) has become increasingly common with those seeking flexibility in their careers, it’s likely never been a hotter topic of conversation than now.

With the World Health Organization recently declaring the global coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak a pandemic, the ability to work from home may soon become more necessity than convenience.

Some companies are already voluntarily asking their staff to work remotely, while those with suspected or confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus are being advised to self-isolate.

So, whether you need or want to work from home, we’ve compiled the following tips to help you make the most of services over the nbn™ broadband access network*.

Get the right speed

Depending on the nature of your work, you may be surprised at the download and upload requirements needed to effectively get the job done.

Sending and receiving large files, taking video conference calls, and simultaneously running multiple online programs are just some of the typical work tasks that can affect internet speed.

And if you work at night, remember that internet speeds tend to slow down in the after-dinner ‘busy period’.

Work from Home Tip: Talk to your phone and internet provider about the speed tiers available in your area*. If needed, consider speaking with your provider about changing your plan – even temporarily – to accommodate your working from home needs.

Get the right plan

Working from home doesn’t have to be an isolating experience. Apps like Slack are useful for real-time team collaboration, while the likes of Trello can help with project management.

For some virtual face-to-face time, try apps like Skype and Zoom, and share files over the cloud – including real-time document co-authoring and version control – with those including Google Docs and OneDrive.

While undoubtedly handy, keep in mind that the more reliant your remote work is on internet-based software, the more bandwidth you may need. So, while sharing basic documents will have a relatively minor impact on your bandwidth, downloading and uploading massive files could have a noticeable effect.

Work from Home Tip: Ask your provider about the plans available to you. Tell them about the ways you’ll be using your connection for work and downtime so they can help you pick the right plan*.

Get the optimum performance

Even with the right speed and plan, factors around the home can affect your online experience*. To help make the most of your work day, start by ensuring you have the best possible internet set-up in your home.

Using Wi-Fi? Make sure your modem isn’t hiding behind the likes of brick walls, large electrical appliances or mirrors. These – and more – can cause poor signal.

Living in a device-happy home? Basic modems can generally support eight devices connected at one time, so chat to your provider to make sure you have the right modem for your needs.

Older cabling or devices at your place? These can lead to slower speeds. Get an assessment from a registered cabler and consider upgrading older devices, like printers or computers.

Consistently uploading large files? Consider doing so during off-peak hours (between 12am and 7am).

Work from Home Tip: Make sure your nbn™ connection has the chance to perform its best by following this list of tips to optimise your experience.

Internet down?

Many businesses use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to allow their employees to log in remotely – and safely – to work servers and systems.

If your internet appears to go down while working, it could be your VPN.

To check whether it’s your VPN or an issue with your nbn™ connection, try accessing a non-work website like Google. If it loads normally, contact your workplace to let them know your VPN isn’t working. You can also check if any unforeseen incident may be impacting your services over the nbn™ access network.

Your FAQs answered

Does the nbn™ access network have sufficient capacity to cope with a change in usage patterns if and when more people work, study and generally spend more time at home, streaming content?

The rollout of the nbn™ access network is more than 90 per cent complete, meaning the vast majority of Australians already have access to a fast, reliable, secure wholesale broadband network.

With more people working, studying and generally spending more time at home streaming content, we are seeing a change in the profile of data traffic on our network, with increasing residential usage of the network throughout the day and in the busy hours (7-11pm).

Like all infrastructure providers, NBN Co is actively working with retailers to ensure we optimise the network to support Australians in anticipation of unprecedented demand. As always, we encourage customers to contact their internet retailer to understand how their current plan will support their home working needs.

 

Will the network be impacted if NBN Co is forced to institute a large-scale quarantine? Can the network continue to operate if staff are forced to work remotely?

We are taking steps to preserve and maintain all network assets.

If we are required to de-centralise our team, we have the confidence that people who can work from home will be able to work from home and, as always, we will keep the network reliable and available.

Will the spread of coronavirus impact the rollout of the network? Will NBN Co still complete the volume rollout by June 2020?

As everyone can appreciate, we are in a highly dynamic and rapidly evolving situation.

For now, nothing changes.

Completing the volume rollout is still important, but right now, our top priorities are people’s safety and wellbeing as well as protecting and maintaining the existing network.

What steps is NBN Co taking to ensure the safety and wellbeing of its on-the-ground staff including the technicians who might have to attend to premises with residents in quarantine?

We continue to prioritise the health, safety and wellbeing of our people including our external workforce and manage our Business Continuity planning, in response to COVID-19. Informed by the latest advice by Government and health authorities (including the WHO and Commonwealth Government), nbn has introduced additional health and safety procedures to support field technicians, including:

  • Introducing an additional control whereby technicians are now required to implement a new ‘Call on approach’ procedure, verifying whether there is any reason to suspect risk of exposure to COVID-19 at the premises.
  • Rescheduling of appointments if premises is in isolation.
  • Issuing additional hygiene instructions and briefings.
  • Providing additional hygiene products, including alcohol based hand rub or hand soap, alcohol based wipes and making face masks and disposable gloves available to all field technicians.
  • Minimising close contact when on premises and exercising additional wipe downs of all equipment and touch points.
  • In keeping with our obligations, continuing to maintain HSE Incident reports.
My speeds at home are poor/I am not getting my expected speeds – what can I do to improve my experience?

As always, we encourage customers to contact their internet retailer to understand how their current plan can support their needs.

There are also a few practical tips to help people get the most out of their in-home set-up:

  • Keep your modem and Wi-Fi router in a central location, free from obstruction and away from interfering objects like televisions and microwave ovens.
  • If you’re still not getting the performance you want, it may be that your Wi-Fi router could do with an upgrade.
  • Check your plan and talk to your internet retailer about what you need.
Someone in my house has a medical alarm – will this service be impacted by a coronavirus quarantine?

With the rollout of the national broadband network more than 90 per cent complete, we have run an accompanying scheme to help with the migration to the nbn access network with customers who have medical alarms that have been registered with NBN Co.

We encourage residents to talk to their medical alarm provider and internet provider about their specific needs and we also provide a substantial resource on our website.

How can I support and stay connected to my colleagues if they are forced to work from home?

The business world has seen a big shift towards remote working and flexible working from home arrangements in recent years. We’ve also seen huge take-up of collaborative tools like video conferencing.

People should take advice from their employers on the best ways to approach their working days.

Of course, there are some general tips we would recommend, including some that can be found above.

I’m keen to explore a business nbn™ connection for my company/office(s) – will the spread of coronavirus impact this?

If businesses are interested in exploring a service over the nbn™ access network, we encourage them to contact their internet provider and discuss the options available.

Of course, nbn is following the advice from the World Health Organization and Federal Department of Health; and the health, safety and wellbeing of our people and customers is a priority for us.

If schools are closed how can the network support remote learning solutions?

With the rollout of the national broadband network more than 90 per cent complete, the nbn™ access network is contributing to education outcomes by helping to connect students and parents across the country with digital literacy and innovative learning tools.

We do anticipate that if schools are closed there will be an increase in the use of online tools to help students to continue with their classwork.

More students at home will change the profile of data traffic on the nbn™ access network, increasing residential usage of the network throughout the day and in the busy hours (7-11pm).

Like all infrastructure providers, NBN Co is actively working with retailers to ensure we optimise the network to support Australians in anticipation of unprecedented demand. As always, we encourage customers to contact their internet retailer to understand how their current plan would support their home working needs.  

Read next:

OPTIMISE YOUR EXPERIENCE

Optimise your in-home technology and setup: Wi-Fi edition

REMOTE-ACCESS SCAMS

Protecting against remote-access scams

MEDICAL ALARMS

Medical alarms and the nbn™ access network

* An end user’s experience, including the speeds actually achieved over the nbn™ broadband access network, depends on the nbn™ access network technology and configuration over which services are delivered to their premises, whether they are using the internet during the busy period (typically, 7pm to 11pm), and some factors outside of nbn’s control (like their equipment quality, software, chosen broadband plan, signal reception, or how their provider designs its network). Speeds may also be impacted by the number of concurrent users on the Fixed Wireless network, particularly during busy periods. Sky Muster™ satellite users may experience latency.