NBN Co chief thinks 12Mbps plan was a mistake

In what seems to be yet another jab at Australian internet service providers (ISPs), NBN Co. CEO Bill Morrow has suggested that the broadband service should consider removing its slowest 12Mbps tier in order to avoid ISPs misusing and misrepresenting what it offers.

“The fact that we have a 12Mbps product means that’s how [ISPs are] going to price the cheapest number [they] can put on [their NBN offering],” Morrow said of the apparent misuse in a statement to a parliamentary committee yesterday. 

The 12Mbps tier hovers only slightly above the current average broadband speed, and is chosen by around a third of all current NBN customers. Morrow said he thinks that ISPs labeling 12Mbps as an ‘NBN service’ is damaging the service’s reputation, and that consumers would have a more  positive experience with one of the other, higher-speed tiers that are available.  



Morrow questioned whether “[we] should have that 12Mbps product in the market at all?”, although he did not provide a definitive answer as to whether there are plans to axe it. During the same address to the parliamentary committee in which he first brought up the issue, he made sure it was clear that its discontinuation wasn’t a foregone conclusion.

Bill Morrow also stated that he has concerns over cutting this plan, particularly the fact that it removes the ability for ISPs to customise their products and therefore reduces consumer choice. This could mean that price-conscious broadband users – such as those who are happy with their ADSL-level speeds of around 8-9 Mbps and don’t want to pay exorbitantly more – could be forced onto a higher-priced plan for speed they don’t want.

While these upper limits were discussed, another solution that was broached involved the stability and assured speeds of a given plan. In particular, Morrow raised the idea of a media streaming plan, quoting a statistic that 70% of today’s internet traffic is consumed by video streaming.

This proposed streaming plan would work on a “guaranteed” (a word that he was quick to defend with ‘within reason’) minimum speed so that, while users may not get blazing fast speeds, they’ll at least get consistent-enough performance to watch streaming video.

At this point, the suggested plans and reductions are merely that — suggestions — but given how tumultuous the NBN rollout has been thus far, it sounds like any (and every) new idea on the table is up for consideration.

Harry Domanski
Harry is an Australian Journalist for TechRadar with an ear to the ground for future tech, and the other in front of a vintage amplifier. He likes stories told in charming ways, and content consumed through massive screens. He also likes to get his hands dirty with the ethics of the tech.