Ella Misisa of Slacks Creek has received a refurbished computer to assist with learning from home.
Ella Misisa of Slacks Creek has received a refurbished computer to assist with learning from home.

How to get cheaper internet

LOW-income families with schoolchildren who are struggling to pay for internet connection are expected to benefit from a relief package NBN has handed to internet providers.

Under the deal, which runs until September, NBN will waive its $37 monthly wholesale charge for internet providers for many services on the 25/5 Mbps speed tier.

NBN said the move was designed to enable internet providers to create more affordable offers to connect families who are homeschooling during Term Two.

Today's National Cabinet meeting is likely to discuss when students will return to school classrooms, with an expected date touted for June.

Slacks Creek mother Chiquita Misisa said cheaper computer and internet access would allow her family, including daughter Ella, 10, to face the coming weeks with confidence.

Logan City Council and social enterprise Substation33 stepped in last week and helped the family with a reconstructed computer and some internet access.

"Education for our kids is very important to me and my husband," Ms Misisa said.

"Academically they are doing well and we didn't want them to fall behind.

"But we were wondering what we were going to do without a computer. This has been a huge relief for us".

Logan student Harry Green was also given a reconstituted computer from Substation 33 which is helping those who can't pay for internet access by recycling excess Optus data.

 

 

Harry Green, 15 of Jimboomba with his refurbished computer. Kayla Poulter and Jesse Pullen are part of a team of volunteer computer technicians building computers for Queensland kids in need, forced to work remotely due to coronavirus, Kingston. Photographer: Liam Kidston
Harry Green, 15 of Jimboomba with his refurbished computer. Kayla Poulter and Jesse Pullen are part of a team of volunteer computer technicians building computers for Queensland kids in need, forced to work remotely due to coronavirus, Kingston. Photographer: Liam Kidston

NBN Co chief executive Stephen Rue said funds would also be allocated for internet providers to help residential and small-and-medium business customers struggling to pay monthly bills.

He said internet providers would also be offered support to upgrade health providers who are conducting patient consultations via video link or phone.

Telehealth businesses which have basic or standard NBN services will be eligible to upgrade to higher speed tiers at no additional charge.

NBN Co would also provide financial support to internet providers for new connections of specified business-grade services, helping businesses to re-establish themselves when the pandemic passes.

"The support measures are directly aimed at helping customers stay connected during this period of uncertainty," he said.

"We are introducing a range of measures to build resilience for essential and emergency services, and telehealth providers as online demand for these services grows.

"To help ensure service continuity, NBN Co will offer internet providers enhanced service levels, and prioritised connections and fault resolutions for these customers via case management through NBN's Business Operations Centre."

Logan Mayor Darren Power said Council remained focused on supporting local families and residents through the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Our top priority at this time is the safety and wellbeing of our community, customers and staff," Mayor Power said.

"More people are working and studying from home and require support and technology to do so.

"Our community members are rising to these new challenges and Council is proud to support them on this fantastic initiative."

Logan Together Director Matthew Cox said current social distancing requirements had reinforced the importance of every child having equal learning opportunities.

Australian Communications Consumer Action Network chief executive Teresa Corbin welcomed the announcement as an important step towards ensuring there were no Australians left offline.

"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."

Originally published as How to get cheaper internet