NBN Co is set to rebate retail service providers between $3 and $7 a month for every 250Mbps and above customer they have on their books from the start of next month.
The ‘superfast plus rebate’, which was first reported by CommsDay late last week, comes into effect on August 1 and runs for six months, according to an update to NBN Co’s discount list last week. [pdf]
A service that is activated anytime up until the end of January 2022 would be eligible for six months of rebates.
Under the rebate, retail service providers (RSPs) would receive a $3 a month rebate for every ‘superfast’ - 250Mbps - residential customer they have, and a $7 a month rebate for every ‘ultrafast ‘ - up to gigabit - residential customer.
It appears that the rebate scheme will serve two purposes.
Firstly, it might help RSPs that have used a separate discount called ‘focus on fast’ in the first six months of the year - which provided a free upgrade to 250Mbps or gigabit services to 100Mbps users - to entice some users to stay on the more expensive tiers once the ‘focus on fast’ discount expires.
‘Focus on fast’ is a $12 a month wholesale discount on ‘superfast’ 250Mbps services and a $24 a month wholesale discount on ‘ultrafast’ up to gigabit services.
It’s always been unclear what would happen once ‘focus on fast’ expires, and the extent to which customers would have a good enough experience to warrant a minimum $12-24 a month increase in what they pay for broadband.
In that way, NBN Co hopes that the ‘superfast plus rebate’ of $3-7 a month might cushion the impact a bit and keep enough users on the higher tiers to make the ‘focus on fast’ scheme financially lucrative for NBN Co.
However, the ‘superfast plus rebate’ appears to be more than just an enticement for ‘focus on fast’ upgraders that stay on the faster tiers.
iTnews has confirmed that the ‘superfast plus rebate’ will be payable for any active ‘superfast’ or ‘ultrafast’ residential service in operation (SIO).
That would mean RSPs that already had strong 250Mbps and up to gigabit customer bases before the ‘focus on fast’ promotion would also be eligible for rebates.
NBN Co was criticised for the way it structured the ‘focus on fast’ campaign [pdf], offering rebates only on new sign-ups or upgrades from lower speed tiers.
Existing high-speed customers did not qualify, but some were encouraged to churn to providers that offered to price-match the temporary discount out of their own pockets, leading to some industry discontent.
While too late to arrest that, offering a new rebate scheme that applies to all customers - new and existing - may partially compensate RSPs like Aussie Broadband that already had sizable 250Mbps and up to gigabit customer bases prior to the ‘focus on fast’ campaign.
An NBN Co spokesperson declined to comment.
An Aussie Broadband spokesperson was unavailable for comment.
The 'superfast plus rebate' is only payable on services that are not eligible for any other discount. There is a month that 'focus on fast' and 'superfast plus rebate' potentially overlap, but only one would be payable, not both.
Recent ACCC numbers showed an enormous increase in the number of 250Mbps and up to gigabit SIOs.
But with most of them not paying for those speeds - and facing potential bill shock to stay in the tiers, even with the new ‘superfast plus rebate - it won’t be known until later this year how successful this round of discounts was in increasing top tier usage.