NBN Co scraps plan to charge more for fixed wireless users

NBN Co has officially ruled out plans for increasing the prices charged to regional users over those in metropolitan areas.

The news came less than a day after the initial proposal was flagged by the company, and was following an abrupt declaration by the Communications Minister in charge.

Minister Mitch Fifield said that the Government was going to ensure that the pricing would continue to be equivalent between fixed line and wireless connections.

Mr Fifield said that the Labor party was claiming that NBN Co was planning to “charge more for fixed wireless” and that “this will not occur”.

During a Wednesday evening Parliamentary Committee, CFO of NBN Co, Stephen Rue, said that the new fixed wireless costs would commence as of Monday.

This meant that the same plan that would charge $45 in metropolitan areas would charge $65 to those using fixed wireless tech.

Labor MPs since held a press conference calling for the Government to put a stop to the proposal, directly prompting a response from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Bill Morrow, the CEO of NBN Co and the same person who blamed gamers for high network congestion, made an effort to clear up the confusion.

He said that there was no $65 fee for fixed wireless connections, citing the confusion as a “consultation’ issue”.

He went on to say that the added cost was easy to “just wipe off” so that there would be no difference between rural and city bills at the end of the day.

However, Labor communications spokesperson Michelle Rowland said that it was a “humiliation” for the Federal Communications Minister.

Around 250,000 Australians, the majority in regional locations, use the NBN via the fixed wireless system.

According to the numbers, NBN Co has raised nearly $2 billion throughout 2017 and 2018. The cost per house for each fixed wireless connection rose marginally in 2017, mostly because of the need for new technology to tackle congestion.

While these pricing changes have been defeated, NBN Co is still rumoured to be considering a new ‘fair use policy’ that would better manage the limited capacity of regional towers.

Christian Woods
Christian Woods
Christian is a morning reporter and technology columnist for Best in Australia. Christian has worked in the media since 2000, in a range of locations. He joined Best in Australia in 2018, and began working in Melbourne in 2019.
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