NBN Co gives itself until September to cut congested cell numbers

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NBN Co gives itself until September to cut congested cell numbers

To under one percent.

NBN Co has given itself until September this year to bring the proportion of congested cells on its fixed wireless network down to less than one percent.

The network builder provided the deadline in response to questions from the most recent senate estimates.

Chief network engineering officer Peter Ryan said in April last year that the company had set a goal to reduce the proportion of congested cells on the network from six-to-seven percent down to less than one percent.

However, he never set a timeframe under which that would occur. NBN Co provided some indication of the speed of its efforts in October, when it said the total proportion of congested cells was under four percent.

NBN Co considers a cell to be officially congested when its “30 day … average busy hour download throughput [falls] below ... 6Mbps" per user.

“As at 31 October 2018, there were 416 cells in the network” that met this congestion definition, NBN Co said today.

“NBN Co is working to bring the number of cells breaching the current engineering threshold to below one percent of cells by late September 2019,” it said.

“There is not only a dedicated program of work in place to ensure the cells that are currently below the engineering threshold are upgraded as a priority, but also a proactive upgrade program to ensure that cells don’t drop below the engineering threshold.”

In February last year, NBN Co brought forward planned works to try to combat rising congestion on the fixed wireless network - the result of take-up rates that were higher than expected when the network was planned back in 2011.

The company has since committed to spend an extra $800 million remediating the problems.

NBN Co has faced renewed pressure to act faster in recent months, with the possibility of having to pay rebates to users stuck in congested cells.

While the company expects to have less than one percent of cells congested by September this year, it said it expects to continue work to reduce the number further after this time.

“The upgrade program is expected to continue even after this time, to maintain the performance,” NBN Co said.

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