Homes that receive free NBN upgrade will need to stay on faster plans or face fees
NBN Co has released a series of documents outlining the process for customers to become eligible for free upgrades to an NBN FTTP connection, allowing access to the faster broadband speed tiers on the network.
Among the requirements for the free upgrade, customers will need to stay connected to a faster speed tier for at least 12 months following the free upgrade or face charges from NBN Co.
Since the initial NBN rollout was completed in late 2020, NBN Co has shifted its focus to increasing the availability of its higher-speed services. The NBN 250 and NBN 1000 speed tiers are both only available to customers with an FTTP connection or selected HFC connection, with the other connection types only eligible for lower speed tiers.
Pledging to make more than three million households eligible for free upgrades to FTTP technology, NBN Co has been working on improving fibre connections across the network.
To qualify for a free upgrade, customers must be living in an eligible area and place an order for a higher speed broadband service on the network. For FTTN customers, this means ordering a plan with a speed profile of 100mpbs/20mbps or higher, while those with an FTTC connection will need to order a plan of 250mbps or higher to qualify.
The introduction of a fee would be used as a deterrent to customers signing up for a higher speed plan to take advantage of a free upgrade, before returning to a lower speed tier.
"NBN Co is seeking to create some commercial protection against short-term upgrades to ensure the long-term viability of the upgrade program," an NBN Co spokesperson told itnews.
"The proposed fee is significantly lower than the variable direct cost incurred to fulfil the upgrade order in consideration of the longer-term value of the fibre asset."
NBN Co also confirmed that the fee would only apply to customers who drop their speed tier below the minimum eligible speed to qualify for the free upgrade. For example, a customer with a current FTTC connection who places an order for an NBN1000 plan to qualify for the free upgrade would be able to drop to an NBN250 plan (the minimum eligible speed to qualify for the free upgrade on an FTTC connection) within 12 months without facing a fine.
NBN Co plans to release a draft agreement surrounding the conditions to its upgrade plan to internet service providers later this month, ahead of a planned commercial launch in November 2021.
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