NBN users are flocking to faster plans on smaller providers, new report shows

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The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has recently published a quarterly report indicating the number of active residential connections on the National Broadband Network (NBN) has seen a decline for the first time. 

The decline in the most recent quarter isn’t a huge one at only 0.1%, but this represents around 9,000 connections. The ACCC says there are now approximately 8.73 million active residential NBN connections in Australia. 

While the report doesn’t state why there has been a decline in numbers, we can speculate that customers have transferred their connection to either a 5G home internet plan or to a private telco such as GigaComm or Opticomm. But despite not having this information, there is still an interesting take away from the ACCC’s report.

Data has revealed that customers are starting to walk away from the big 3 telcos of Telstra, TPG and Optus, and switching NBN providers to one of the smaller companies. The ACCC has said collectively these three providers lost around 95,000 customers. Telstra, TPG and Optus still remain as the top three, however, with 3,700,846; 1,956,177; and 1,147,588 customers, respectively. 

Customer data for the individual smaller NBN providers isn’t given, but is grouped together as ‘Others’. The ACCC says this group, combined with Vocus — the owner of Australia’s second-largest fibre network behind the NBN — gained approximately 86,000 services, bringing the total to 1.9 million. 

The ACCC added that during the entire year of 2022, collective connections to the big 3 and Vocus decreased by over 227,000, while smaller telcos gained roughly 363,000. This would indicate that customers became more aware of other options when it comes to connecting to the NBN, and that there are some great NBN deals to be found to save some money. 

Another finding to be taken from the quarterly report is that a good proportion of customers who are connected to the NBN have migrated to an NBN 100 plan. NBN 50 plans have long been the favourite in Australia, with the 50Mbps maximum download speed being more than capable of supporting a household, but the number of services on this speed tier decreased by more than 131,000. Conversely, NBN 100 connections increased by almost 190,000. 

Why are people switching up their NBN plan?

It’s tricky to determine exactly why customers have upgraded their plan. One suggestion could be that they’re seeing more value in the higher speeds, as the average monthly price of an NBN 100 plan is only around AU$20 extra per month over NBN 50. The ACCC has also found the number of fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) connections has continued to increase — up from 1,734,974 in September ‘22 to 1,761,406 in December ‘22 — either from the installation at new build properties, or the continued rollout of NBN upgrades

With FTTP connections able to comfortably allow for 100Mbps download speeds, customers could be feeling more inclined to take advantage of them. There’s also the possibility that households are demanding greater bandwidth as they invest in more of the best streaming services. And of course, as many of us continue to work from home, we’re still needing fast and reliable broadband. 

Max Langridge
Senior Editor, Tom's Guide AU

Max is a digital content writer for Tom’s Guide in Australia, where he covers all things internet-related, including NBN and the emerging alternatives, along with audio and visual products such as headphones and TVs. Max started his career in his homeland of England, where he spent time working for What Hi-Fi? and Pocket-lint, before moving to Australia in 2018.