NBN Co will establish a $150 million financial relief and assistance fund to help internet providers support residential and small and medium business (SMB) customers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
NBN Co launched the package in response to a brief industry consultation process involving more than 50 internet providers, government and consumer group Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN).
The group identified specific customer segments that it said would require immediate support.
The network operator said the relief is aimed at helping internet providers connect low-income households with home schooling needs, support emergency and essential services, and assist SMBs and residential customers who are facing financial hardship.
As part of the package, 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 said it is working with the Department of Education and schools in each state and territory to ensure this initiative reaches those most in need.
The network operator also created a dedicated support package for essential and emergency services.
It focusses on providing internet providers higher speeds for telehealth providers, enhanced service levels, and prioritised connections and fault resolution via case management through NBN Co’s Business Operations Centre through this period of increased demand.
Internet providers will also receive discounted access to new connections of specified wholesale business grade products to help maintain or re-establish businesses.
The total support package for SMBs will be approximately $50 million and the relief measures for residential financial hardship will be approximately $50 million.
The package will be available from April to 30 September but NBN Co said it was a matter for resellers to determine when and what offers they develop for their customers.
NBN Co chief executive Stephen Rue said the provider was aware that many Australian households and businesses were doing it tough, and that access to broadband services had 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 with remote schooling needs for their children and keeping Australian households, small and medium businesses, as well as essential and emergency services connected,” he added.
“The unprecedented measures we are announcing today reflect our commitment to the Telecommunications industry in helping to deliver a whole of industry solution to these consumer and business segments which have been hit hard by the pandemic.”
“The financial relief and assistance measures we have announced today are about providing financial assistance to help internet providers support low-income households with school children at home who are not currently connected to the nbn.”
The carrier will waive its $37 monthly wholesale charge for internet providers for many services on the 25/5 Mbps speed tier between April and September.
NBN Co said 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 SMB customers who are struggling to pay their monthly bill because they have been impacted by the pandemic.
NBN Co also introduced a range of measures to build resilience for essential and emergency services, and telehealth providers as online demand for these services grows.
It will offer internet providers enhanced service levels, and prioritised connections and fault resolutions for these customers via case management through its Business Operations Centre.
ISPs 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.