Australia’s NBN Co establishes $150mn relief fund for ISPs

smaller broadband NBN relief fund
Image courtesy NBN Co

Australia’s NBN Co will establish a $150 million financial relief and assistance fund to help internet providers to support their residential and small and medium business customers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The relief fund, created following a short industry consultation led by NBN Co, is aimed at helping internet providers connect low-income households with home schooling needs, supporting emergency and essential services, and assisting small and medium businesses and residential customers who are facing financial hardship. The consultation involved more than 50 internet providers, government and consumer group Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) and identified specific customer segments that require immediate support.

Approximately $50 million will be directed to helping internet providers support low-income households with school-aged children who do not currently have an active nbn connection at home. NBN Co is working with the Department of Education and schools in each state and territory to ensure this initiative reaches those most in need.  

As part of this package, NBN Co will also be implementing relief measures to help internet providers support struggling households and small and medium businesses stay connected during this pandemic, and has created a dedicated support package for essential and emergency services, which focusses on providing internet providers higher speeds for telehealth providers, enhanced service levels, and prioritised connections and fault resolution via case management through nbn’s Business Operations Centre through this period of increased demand.

The package also extends to supporting small and medium businesses by providing internet providers with discounted access to new connections of specified wholesale business grade products to help them to maintain or re-establish their businesses, once this crisis passes.  The total support package for small and medium businesses will be approximately $50 million and the relief measures for residential financial hardship will be approximately $50 million.

The NBN Co relief and assistance package will be made available to retailers in accordance with applicable terms and conditions from April to 30 September but it’s a matter for retailers to determine when and what offers they develop for their customers.

Residential and business financial relief measures:

To help unconnected low-income families with school children get connected, nbn will be waiving its $37 monthly wholesale charge for internet providers for many services on the 25/5 Mbps speed tier between April and September. This is intended to enable internet providers to create more affordable offers to connect these families as Term Two of school starts across the nation.

Funds will also be allocated for internet providers to help residential and small and medium business customers who are struggling to pay their monthly bill because they have been impacted by the pandemic. The support measures are directly aimed at helping these customers stay connected during this period of uncertainty.

NBN Co is introducing a range of measures to build resilience for essential and emergency services, and telehealth providers as online demand for these services grows. To help ensure service continuity, NBN Co will offer internet providers enhanced service levels, and prioritised connections and fault resolutions for these customers via case management through nbn’s Business Operations Centre. To further support the expected increase in telehealth activity, internet providers will be offered support to grant health providers that have basic or standard nbn services upgrades to eligible higher speed tiers at no additional charge.  NBN Co will also provide financial support to internet providers for new connections of specified business-grade services, helping businesses to re-establish themselves when the pandemic passes.

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