NBN Co is exploring product options that would make its services more appealing to transient users such as renters.
The move, if NBN Co can pull it off, is a clear swipe at mobile operators whose services are considered to appeal more to that subsection of the broadband market.
In particular, having such a product could allow NBN Co to see off potential competition from precursor 5G services like Optus’ forthcoming 50Mbps wireless product.
“We do have a lower take-up rate thus far in multi-dwelling units (MDUs) and the hypothesis as part of that is due to the transient nature of people who come in and come out [of those blocks],” residential chief customer officer Brad Whitcomb told senate estimates on Tuesday night.
“To the extent to which they need some connectivity, it’s reasonable to assume those people are using mobile.”
“We would like to see how we could build our penetration and assist those customers,” CEO Stephen Rue added.
“We are looking at something we could do with that. We’re not quite at the stage where it is formulated enough into a clear plan, but we’re working on it.
“We’re going to be discussing [it] with our retail partners because it’s something we want to address.”
NBN Co operates on assumptions that 73.5 percent of people covered by the network will take it up, with others choosing alternatives such as mobile.
Telstra suggested last year that nine percent of internet users - some one million homes - could opt for a wireless service based on precursor 5G or 5G technologies.
The size of that market seems attractive enough for NBN Co to try to service it, though it remains unclear what kind of product offer the company could make.
“If we look at MDUs where people tend to go in and out more frequently, we are looking from a product perspective of how we could make it easier when an end user comes in to have an always-on NBN service,” Whitcomb suggested.
“Is it as simple as your first three days are free so you can get online and order a service through your retailer, as an example.”
It wasn’t entirely clear how this would work, as users could feasibly shift between apartments that use different NBN fixed line technologies, requiring different in-home equipment.
Both Whitcomb and Rue suggested there was room for retail service providers to also make it simpler for transient users such as short-term renters to maintain an NBN connection.
Whitcomb said that retailers could, for example, offer no-contract or prepaid plans as a way to make NBN more attractive to this subset of users.