Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has signed up to the 100Mbps speed tier on the national broadband network despite previously arguing that most Australians need only 12Mbps.
In senate estimates overnight the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet revealed the prime minister's Point Piper home had been connected to the NBN's hybrid-fibre coaxial (HFC) network on December 8 last year.
He escaped the 6-9 month delays that have hit most premises that are to be connected to the HFC portion of the network as the result of a sales freeze and network remediation drive announced by NBN Co last year.
PM&C first assistant secretary Paula Ganley told estimates the department had negotiated with NBN Co to make sure the connection "proceeded smoothly".
She also revealed the residence was on one of the highest speed tiers available for the NBN - 100Mbps down and 40Mbps up. It was costing the prime minister around $120 per month.
He is also connected to HFC at Kirribilli House on the same speed tier for $95 per month.
Ganley said the same package would likely be purchased when the Lodge in Canberra is connected between and July and September this year to NBN fibre-to-the-curb technology.
Turnbull used an argument that most Australians could live happily on speeds of 12 Mbps to underpin his government's change from a full fibre-to-the-premise network - as designated under the former Labor government - to a multi-technology mix of fibre-to-the-node/curb/basement, HFC, satellite, and fixed wireless.
Turnbull at the time said evidence in the US, Japan and the Tasmania's NBN take-up rates pointed to the fact that households did not want "gigabit speeds".
"For most, if not all applications, much lower speeds are perfectly [fine]," Turnbull said in 2010.
“If you could deliver nationwide 12Mbps at relatively modest cost compared to the NBN, what is the additional utility/value of going from 12 [Mpbs] to 100 [Mbps]
“People in the industry will tell you that they cannot get people to pay a significant premium for an increase in speed. That is partly because, that for a residential user, there isn’t much, if anything, you can do with 100 [Mbps] that you can’t do with 12 [Mbps].”
According to the most recent ACCC figures, around 54 percent of NBN users are on the 25Mbps tier, 29 percent are on 12Mbps, 12 percent have chosen 100Mbps plans, and 5 percent are on 50Mbps.
The growth is understood to come from the network's largest reseller Telstra, which today was reported to be quietly upgrading 850,000 NBN customers to 50Mbps plans as a result of the promotion.