The government has announced that NBN Co will be providing retail service providers (RSPs) with extra Connectivity Virtual Circuit (CVC) to help the growing numbers of Australians working from home due to the coronavirus crisis. This is what that actually means.
From Monday March 23, RSPs will be able to access up to 40 per cent more CVC for free for at least three months. This will apply to fixed wireless and Sky Muster satellite services. This extra bandwidth is being added to help alleviate the increased upload and download demands on residential networks and more people begin to self isolate and work from home.
"The network has been accommodating increased traffic of five to six per cent in recent days. NBN Co is confident in its ability to continue to manage and optimise its network with the expectation that it will see further traffic increases, in line with changes seen in other countries such as Italy," said Paul Fletcher, the Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, in a statement.
This change comes only two days after NBN Co stated it would only increase capacity as required and that service providers would need to place forward orders for CVC.
This news landed on the same day the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) called for internet service providers (ISPs) such as NBN Co to do more to help Australians online during this COVID-19 outbreak.
What is CVC?
If you're not sure what this all means and how it effects you, here's a bit of an explainer.
Service providers such as Telstra or Aussie Broadband pay a Connectivity Virtual Circuit (CVC) charge in order to access a certain amount of bandwidth. The more CVC a provider reserves, the more bandwidth they have available to guarantee internet speeds during peak hours.
This is particularly important right now because more people are in self-isolation, many of whom are working from home. So the "peak hours" are longer than normal and people need more bandwidth to avoid network congestion.
This is how NBN Co explains it:
"Think of this as the thickness of a pipe that determines the maximum amount of water flowing through – which is why the peak time of day is considered when determining how much flow through an RSP needs to adequately serve its customers. While the amount of CVC purchased limits the total volume of data being passed between the two networks, the more practical impact of not purchasing enough will constrain the observed speed during busy traffic times."
To put it another way - more bandwidth helps to keep your internet speedy, which is what you want when a lot of people are trying to do business work (sending large files, video conferences, downloading) on residential internet rather than business plans.
Australia's peak advocacy group has called on Australian telcos to offer affordable and reliable internet during the coronavirus outbreak as more workers begin to work from home for the foreseeable future.