NBN Co claims end of the CVC bottleneck

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NBN Co claims end of the CVC bottleneck

Peak-time congestion averages 12 minutes per service per week.

NBN Co claims CVC-related congestion problems on its network have all but disappeared after the introduction of steeper discounts.

The claim is made as part of a new set of numbers NBN Co plans to publish each month, which it is calling a “customer experience progress report”.

The report covers - at a high level -  rollout progress and user experience metrics when they connect to and use the network, as well as how quickly faults on NBN Co’s end are fixed.

“We have designed this report to be accessible to a wide audience but at the same time providing a balanced view of the critical customer experience metrics most important to Australians,” residential chief customer officer Brad Whitcomb said.

The most useful set of numbers in this report is likely to be a pair of congestion-related metrics, covering the proportion of premises whose services were congested as well as why that was the case.

One quirk of the report is that NBN Co is only reporting congestion levels on its fixed line network, excluding wireless (which is presently suffering congestion problems) and satellite.

On the fixed line network, Whitcomb said “less than 0.2 percent” of premises felt the impacts of congestion in February 2018.

NBN Co also reported that the CVC bottleneck - long considered an artificial constraint on the network’s performance - had more or less evaporated as a result of steeper discounts.

Before new wholesale price offers were brought to market, NBN Co said customers across all access technologies, excluding only satellite, saw congestion for basically the entire 7pm-11pm peak period.

NBN Co claims that “average bandwidth congestion” - that is, CVC-related problems - have since shrunk to 12 minutes per user per week.

Whitcomb called that “hands down a world class performance” level.

“The big news is the de-congestion of the fixed line network,” he said.

“That’s really been the result of working closely with our RSPs around our pricing construct and making it more attractive for the retailers to purchase more, CVC which is the cause of that bandwidth congestion.”

While NBN Co is able to see how much CVC each retail service provider buys, it declined to provide those numbers in its new report, arguing it was up to RSPs to decide whether to do so or not.

Regulators in the past have similarly refused to disclose numbers down to an individual RSP level.

“We’re reporting an aggregate of all the RSP’s CVCs on the network [in this report],” Whitcomb said.

The virtual elimination of CVC-related issues in the span of two months confirms what industry has long argued: that it was too expensive and a bottleneck to the NBN achieving its potential.

Superloop CEO Bevan Slattery had labelled it "galactically stupid", while Vocus' consumer chief Scott Carter called it the "missing piece of the puzzle" to the success of the NBN.

Chasing improvements

Other metrics in the new report include the number of activations that are “right the first time”, as well as the company’s performance against “agreed activation timeframes” for new services that are laid out in the wholesale business agreement (WBA3).

“We are pleased our 'right first time' has climbed in recent months and we’re now just below 90 percent,” Whitcomb said.

“Of course we won’t stop there and we’re working both internally and externally with our industry partners to perform even better in the future and we are confident we can achieve that.”

NBN Co similarly said it was pursuing initiatives to improve its performance on fault rectification.

“When it comes to addressing faults on the network we have improved our ability to meet our time commitments from just 72 percent a year ago to more than 85 percent today,” Whitcomb said.

“But we are not where we want to be and we have a series of initiatives underway to improve our performance.”

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