nbn and COVID-19: 10 FAQs answered

7-minute read
We answer the most frequently asked questions about nbn and COVID-19.

Got questions on your mind about nbn and COVID-19? You’re not alone!

Over the past few months, as Australians have increasingly relied on fast broadband to help them work, study and relax at home, we’ve – understandably – answered plenty of questions about this very subject.

Here, we’ve compiled the most frequently asked questions – and their answers – about nbn and COVID-19…

Your most frequently asked questions

On a rollout

1. Will the nbn™ rollout continue during COVID-19?

Yes, we’ve been continuing to roll out the nbn™ network during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the health and wellbeing of our people and customers in mind, we’ve introduced additional health and safety procedures in line with the latest advice, including from the World Health Organization and Australian Government.

These include rescheduling appointments if a premises is in isolation, providing additional hygiene products, and minimising close contact when at a customer’s premises.

Getting connected

2. Can I still get connected to the nbn™ network during the pandemic?

Yes, you can if you are in the nbn™ footprint. We’re continuing to connect premises to the nbn™ network during the COVID-19 pandemic, with additional health and safety procedures in place.

If you’re unwell though, or your premises is in isolation, your appointment will need to be rescheduled.

Safe as houses

3. What safety measures are you employing when a technician visits my premises?

To keep customers and our people safe, we’ve introduced additional health and safety procedures, in line with the latest advice from government and health authorities.

These include:

  • Technician calling on approach to verify if there’s risk of exposure to COVID-19 at the premises
  • Rescheduling appointment when premises is in isolation
  • Providing additional hygiene products, including P2 masks, alcohol-based hand rub or hand soap, alcohol-based wipes and disposable gloves
  • Minimising close contact at premises, wiping down equipment and touch points

Low maintenance?

4. Is nbn still performing network maintenance during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Yes, we’re continuing to perform maintenance on the nbn™ network during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To maintain network availability as much as possible, though – while more Australians are working and studying from home – we’re limiting non-essential maintenance to minimise scheduled, planned outages.

Handling the load

5. Speaking of working from home, what are you doing to help ensure the nbn™ network can handle all the people using it during COVID-19?

Just one of the ways we’ve been helping to support the nation’s broadband needs is by offering eligible phone and internet providers a credit to offset increases in certain wholesale capacity charges due to increased network capacity requirements of up to 40 per cent (where available, depending on access technology), where required to meet COVID-19 demand.

Since launching that offer back in March, we’ve provided more than $40 million in financial relief to phone and internet providers.

We’ve also increased download data limits for our standard nbn™ Sky Muster™ satellite service, providing an additional 45GB* for each standard Sky Muster™ service at no additional cost to providers.

Plus, we’ve introduced new measures to improve customer experience, including national pooling of Connectivity Virtual Circuit capacity (so phone and internet providers can share unused data capacity), and additional data allocations for most wholesale speed tiers.

What’s capacity?

6. So, what’s this capacity that nbn has been offering? Does this mean nbn has been limiting the network?

To provide services to their customers, phone and internet providers purchase capacity on the nbn™ network. If providers don’t purchase enough capacity, then their customers may experience service issues, including network congestion.

So, to help during the COVID-19 pandemic when more Australians have been relying on fast broadband to work, study and enjoy some downtime, we’ve offered financial relief to eligible phone and internet providers for increased network capacity requirements of up to 40 per cent (where available, depending on access technology), where required to meet COVID-19 demand.  

Financial hardship

7. I’m experiencing financial hardship, is there anything nbn can do to help?

We know that these are very challenging times for many Australian households and businesses and that access to broadband services has never been more important.

As a national wholesale provider of broadband services, nbn has an important role to play in supporting internet providers connecting families and keeping Australian households, small and medium businesses, as well as essential and emergency services connected.

To help internet providers to support their residential and small and medium business customers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, nbn is establishing a $150 million financial relief and assistance fund.

The relief fund aims to help internet providers to:

nbn's COVID-19 relief and assistance package will be made available to retailers in accordance with applicable eligibility criteria and other terms and conditions from April 2020 to 15 January 2021, with retailers to determine when and what offers they develop for their customers.

Updated: 4 September 2020

More nbn™ Sky Muster™?

8. What about Sky Muster™ satellite service end customers? Do we get additional data?

From 31 March until the end of August, we’ve temporarily increased the download data limits that apply to internet providers for the standard nbn™ Sky Muster™ satellite service. This is providing an additional 45GB* for each standard service at no additional cost to providers to pass on to their customers.

And we’ve also made enhancements to nbn™ Sky Muster™ Plus plans.

For example, from 1 April, we’ve expanded the content considered ‘unmetered’ for nbn™ Sky Muster™ Plus plans. Only video streaming (excluding streaming embedded video content on certain social media platforms) and traffic via a Virtual Private Network (VPN) will now be metered – anything else no longer counts towards the monthly data allowance (but note that fair use conditions apply and traffic may be shaped at certain times of the day).**

No answer

9. I’ve been trying – with no luck – to reach my phone and internet provider, what am I supposed to do now?

As you can imagine, during the COVID-19 pandemic, phone and internet providers have been experiencing high call volumes and support requests while facing reduced staff numbers.

If you’re experiencing service issues, check the current status of our network to see if there’s a network outage in your area.

If you’re experiencing speed issues or dropouts, take a look at the troubleshooting steps in our in-home optimisation guide.

For more information on nbn and COVID-19, please read the latest updates, working from home tips and FAQs.

Disconnected

10. Will my non-nbn (legacy) services be disconnected during COVID-19?

Updated 11 August 2020:

Following the implementation of a moratorium (pause) on managed disconnection activities that ran from March 19 – 30 June 2020, agreement has been reached between nbn, Telstra, and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) for managed disconnection activity to recommence as of September 2020.***

While Telstra is ultimately responsible for disconnection of legacy services, we remain in full support of measures we can work on together to help ensure people stay connected.

Although most existing services will be replaced by the nbn™ network, please note that not all services will be impacted. There are some services that should not be impacted. These include those services provided over non-nbn™ fibre networks, some services in some apartment complexes, and some business and Special Services. nbn strongly recommends you contact your current phone and internet provider as soon as possible to find out if your services are impacted. You can also find out more at nbn.com.au/switchoff

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

** Exclusions and fair use conditions apply. Most video streaming is metered, but streaming embedded video content on certain social media platforms is unmetered, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr and LinkedIn. If you’re accessing your connection via a Virtual Private Network (VPN) all activities will be metered, even those specified above as ‘unmetered activities’. For more information on which internet activities are unmetered and exclusions speak to your internet service provider. For details on fair use conditions, contact your internet service provider. 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.

*** Services provided over the nbn™ network will be replacing phone and internet services provided over most of the existing landline networks, including copper and the majority of HFC networks within the fixed line footprint. There are some services that should not be impacted, including those provided over non-nbn™ fibre networks and some business and special services. To find out if your services are impacted, contact your current phone and internet provider. The switch off date is subject to change. For more information, visit nbn.com.au/switchoff or call 1800 687 626.