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Waiting for NBN good news is like waiting for Godot Courtesy NBN Co

Poor Stephen Rue. Having been handed the equivalent of a shit sandwich by his illustrious predecessor Bill Morrow, all that the new chief executive of NBN Co can is to pony up when the company's quarterly results are due and go through the motions.

The only things that could turn his day around would be better average revenue per user. And that figure seems to be stuck in a rut – Monday's Q1 2019 figure was again $44, the same as that for FY 2018.

Asked about this after the formal bit of the presentation, Rue said the ARPU would only start looking up when business connections increased or when more people switched to higher speed plans.

Growth of the second of those options is somewhat limited, given that the only plan remaining above 50Mbps is the 100Mbps plan. The ACCC said last week that the number of those taking up 50Mbps plans had risen, with nearly half of the 4.5 million who had connected taking up these plans.

But this is a Catch 22 situation. People are not taking up faster plans because they cannot afford them. Providers will only lessen prices when they get concessions from the NBN Co. And so it goes.

The time that NBN Co takes to reduce what it charges for AVC and CVC is not fixed. It is something like the weather in Melbourne.

Given that, providers can now be put in one of two camps: those who are willing to run at a loss, at least for a while, and accumulate users, hoping that when they do put up prices they will not push people away.

And then there are those who charge a little more but provide good service, in the hope that those whom they deem to be discerning customers will join and stick with them.

Like original sin, the mistake made by the people who set up NBN Co continues to prevent its progress to a true high-speed network that will bring benefits to the country at large. And that is the failure to recognise that fast Internet is an utility, like water, gas and electricity. It is not, as neoliberals view it, a means of making a profit.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the sitecame into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

 

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