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NBN offers $150m relief package to keep struggling customers and businesses connected

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NBN Co will offer a $150m relief package for service providers to pass on to residential and small and medium business customers who are doing it tough during the coronavirus crisis.

The fund is for low income households to help them with home schooling their children as well as supporting emergency and essential services.

It’s also there to assist small and medium businesses who are also facing financial hardship.

More than 50 internet service providers were involved in the consultation along with government and consumer group Australian Communication Consumer Action Network (ACCAN).

Approximately $50m will be offered by internet service providers to support low income households with school-aged children who do not have an NBN connection in their home.

This will be co-ordinated with the Department of Education and schools in each state to ensure the initiative reaches those most in need.

Those eligible for this support will receive the 25/5 Mbps speed tier and have the $37 monthly wholesale charge waived between April and September.

There will also be support for struggling households along with small and medium businesses so they can stay connected during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The NBN will also provide faster speeds for telehealth providers and offer prioritised connections and fault resolutions through the NBN’s Business Operations Centre.

Small and medium businesses will be offered discounted access to new connections of specified wholesale business grade products to maintain or re-establish their businesses.

The NBN relief package will be available to retailers with applicable terms and conditions from April to September 30.

“We know that many Australian households and businesses are doing it tough, and that access to broadband services has never been more important,” said NBN CEO Stephen Rue.

“As a national wholesale provider of broadband services, NBN has an important role to play in supporting internet providers connecting families with remote schooling needs for their children and keeping Australian households, small and medium businesses, as well as essential and emergency services connected.

“The unprecedented measures we are announcing today reflect our commitment to the Telecommunications industry in helping to deliver a whole of industry solution to these consumer and business segments which have been hit hard by the pandemic.”

Teresa Corbin, CEO of the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN), , welcomed the announcement saying it was an important step to ensure no Australian is left disconnected during these challenging times.

“The internet is an essential service for work, study, and accessing government and telehealth services,” said Ms Corbin.

“NBN Co is to be applauded for laying the groundwork to keep struggling families and households connected during this difficult time. We hope to see the nation’s retail service providers build on these foundations to deliver financial relief to those in need.”

The NBN Co relief package will be made available to service retailers and it is up to these retailers to determine when and what offers they provide for their customers.