Australia’s NBN Co plans to establish a AUD150 million (USD95 million) financial relief and assistance fund to help retail ISPs support their residential and small-to-medium business customers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Outlining details of the fund, NBN Co confirmed that it is the result of an industry consultation involving more than 50 ISPs, government and consumer group Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN), that ‘identified specific customer segments that require immediate support’. The fund aims to: help ISPs connect low-income households with home schooling needs; support emergency and essential services; and assist small and medium businesses and residential customers who are facing financial hardship.
According to NBN Co, approximately AUD50 million will go towards helping ISPs support low-income households with school-aged children that do not currently have an active National Broadband Network (NBN) connection. NBN Co will, meanwhile, implement relief measures to help ISPs support struggling households and small and medium businesses stay connected, while it has created a dedicated support package for essential and emergency services, which focuses on providing ISPs higher speeds for telehealth providers, enhanced service levels, and prioritised connections and fault resolution via case management. With the total support package for small and medium businesses said to be worth around AUD50 million, a further AUD50 million has been made available for relief measures for residential financial hardship.
The NBN Co relief and assistance package will be made available to retail service providers in accordance with applicable terms and conditions from April to 30 September, although NBN Co has said it will be a matter for these providers to determine when and what offers they develop for their customers.