Internet providers will have help ensuring low-income families with school-aged children and businesses stay connected from a $150 million National Broadband Network relief fund.
The internet wholesaler wants to ensure families with school children who do not have NBN access, and small and medium-sized businesses, can remain online during and after the coronavirus pandemic.
Online learning has emerged as a key tool to educate children while government restrictions on gatherings remain.
“What it says a lot more people are working from home and with a lot more people doing the right thing and we thank them for that,” said Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack.
“What they also do is place a strain on the system.”
NBN will waive its $37 monthly charge to internet providers between April and September to allow the industry to devise more affordable access for families.
About $50 million from the fund will be dedicated to these families with school children.
There is $50 million earmarked for residential financial hardship, and the same amount to help businesses.
NBN Co chief executive Stephen Rue said the “unprecedented” measures would “deliver a whole-of-industry solution to these consumer and business segments which have been hit hard by the pandemic.
“We know that many Australian households and businesses are doing it tough, and that access to broadband services has never been more important”.
Internet providers will be given discounts on business services so that struggling businesses can maintain or re-establish operations after the crisis.
NBN said it would also help providers of essential and emergency services during the crisis.
Today, we are announcing a $150 million financial relief and assistance fund to help internet providers support their customers impacted by the #COVID19 pandemic. More here: https://t.co/1bttAqMmL3#nbn #coronavirus pic.twitter.com/8jNhg9cb9u
— nbn™ Australia (@NBN_Australia) April 17, 2020
Medical operators increasingly using telehealth services is one example.
NBN will offer internet providers better service levels and prioritised connections for these customers.
Australian Communications Consumer Action Network chief executive Teresa Corbin said she hoped to see internet providers provide financial relief to those in need.
“NBN Co is to be applauded for laying the groundwork to keep struggling families and households connected during this difficult time.”
The creation of the fund follows talks between more than 50 internet providers, government and consumer groups.