NBN promises more transparency on faults, network congestion

New regular public report will include a range of metrics that affect end user experience

NBN will offer a monthly snapshot detailing not just the progress of the National Broadband Network rollout but also how the company is tracking across a range of metrics affecting end user experience.

The company today launched the first “monthly progress report” covering a number of metrics that Brad Whitcomb — NBN’s chief customer officer, residential — said “relate directly to customer experience” across four broad categories: The network rollout, connecting customers, the end user experience, and remedying faults on the network.

The new reporting initiative comes as NBN’s wholesale service standards, detailed in the Wholesale Broadband Agreement (WBA), are scrutinised by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Included in the report are details on congestion encountered by end users on the National Broadband Network.

Whitcomb said there were two potential bottlenecks on the network. The first is the NBN access network itself (“network congestion”).

The network congestion figure in the report reveals the percentage of end users that encountered congestion related to NBN’s access network during a given month. In February 2018, 0.119 per cent of all homes and businesses connected to the NBN encountered network congestion (down from 0.168 per cent in November but up from 0.034 per cent in February 2017).

However, the report only includes data on the fixed-line portion of the National Broadband Network. NBN’s Sky Muster satellite service has previously suffered a range of problems, and the company recently detailed congestion faced by parts of its fixed wireless service.

NBN chief customer officer – residential, Brad WhitcombCredit: NBN Co
NBN chief customer officer – residential, Brad Whitcomb

The reason for only including fixed-line network congestion is that NBN “wanted to provide a metric which represents what the vast majority of people on the network are experiencing,” Whitcomb said. He noted that NBN has previously detailed plans to boost fixed wireless capacity in areas that have experienced congestion.

Currently around 6 per cent of wireless cells are experiencing congestion, he added.

The second congestion figure relates to the purchase of capacity (Connectivity Virtual Circuit or CVC) by retail service providers (RSPs). NBN dubs this “bandwidth congestion”.

The figure is based on comparing CVC purchased and CVC consumed and is tracked at 15-minute intervals. “When we get a ratio between those two which exceeds 95 per cent we deem that particular CVC to be congested,” Whitcomb said.

“To address this we’ve worked closely with the industry to revise our pricing constructs, making it more attractive to our RSP partners to offer a better experience during the busy hour,” Whitcomb said.

“As a result of this work, we’ve seen average weekly bandwidth congestion on the network drop dramatically, from over four hours per week to just 12 minutes of congestion on average per week, which is hands down a world-class performance,” he said.

In an effort to boost the bandwidth purchased by customers, NBN has been offering a temporary CVC credit.

The proportion of customers choosing higher speed plans has also increased, after NBN discounted its wholesale prices for 50/20Mbps services ahead of the roll out this year of a new pricing scheme.

That new scheme is intended to both help boost the uptake of 50/20Mbps services and prevent skimping on bandwidth by bundling access fees and capacity fees together.

The percentage of customers with 50+Mbps plans grew from 16 per cent in February 2017 to 25 per cent as of February 2018, the NBN report reveals.

“We’re on track to have nearly one-third of our customers on wholesale speed plans of 50 or above by the end of our fiscal year, which is an extraordinary uplift in speeds,” Whitcomb said.

NBN registered 1 fault per 100 homes or businesses in February 2018, down from 1.2 in November but up from 0.9 in February 2017, the report reveals.

Whitcomb also revealed that NBN plans to next month detail its plans to resume sales of HFC services.

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