NBN Co has announced a $150 million relief packages for telcos to help low-income families and small businesses access the internet. A particular focus will be on families with school ages children so they can study online.
$50 million of the funding will go towards these families, with NBN CO waiving the $37 monthly wholesale charge that internet service providers (ISPs) usually pay for 25/5 Mbps speed tier plans. This charge will be waived between April and September 2020.
This will be an opt-in scheme for ISPs, who will have their offerings assessed by NBN Co to ascertain whether they are providing cost effecting plans to low-income families.
“This is intended to help make education accessible to all Australian students who are home schooling in response to social distancing measures,” said Paul Fletcher in a statement.
Aussie Broadband has already responded to the proposed package, saying it will participating in the scheme.
“Over the next few weeks, we’ll be working closely with schools to identify families who will benefit from this program. It’s critical for these families to access the internet for their kids’ education during this time,” said Aussie Broadband Managing Director Phil Britt in a statement.
Another $50 million will be allocated to households undergoing financial hardship due to COVID-19.
Aussie Broadband has also said it will also personally contribute to help its customers.
“We are prepared to match NBN’s funding pool for our residential customers doing it tough due to COVID-19. We’ll be applying relief on a case-by-case basis and we encourage customers in financial difficulty to contact us directly,” said Britt.
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The final $50 million will be set aside for small and medium business. Again, wholesale monthly costs will be waived for ISPs in order to allow them to offer discounts on business plans and services. This will be in effect until January 31, 2021.
The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network(ACCAN) has praised the relief package.
“The internet is an essential service for work, study, and accessing government and telehealth services,” said ACCAN CEO, Teresa Corbin.
“NBN Co is to be applauded for laying the groundwork to keep struggling families and households connected during this difficult time. We hope to see the nation’s retail service providers build on these foundations to deliver financial relief to those in need.”
In March NBN Co also pledged 40 per cent extra CVC for internet service providers for free to help manage the growing bandwidth demands of people working from home due to COVID-19.
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