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National Broadband Network Divides the Nation

The ongoing rollout of the National Broadband Network (NBN) in Australia has been followed with interest by residents and media alike. Nabo forums have proved to be no exception to the rule, with many members seeking further information from their neighbours as well as sharing their own experiences in regards to the big change. These experiences tend to differ from member to member and point to the controversial nature of the NBN in Australia.    

For those who are still struggling to get their heads around how it works, the NBN is a broadband access network that is currently being constructed across Australia. Internet service providers (ISPs), like Telstra and Optus, then plug into this network and provide customers with access to the Internet. In other words, NBN is responsible for the technology whilst your ISPs are responsible for essentially everything else, including your NBN installation, network capacity and speed, modem quality and tech support, amongst other things.

Port Macquarie local Wayne K counts himself among the Nabo supporters of the NBN. After making the switch to the NBN, he states that his Internet speed more than doubled, jumping from 11 Mbps (megabits per second) to 23Mbps. His neighbour Bernadette T of Macquarie Fields likewise praises her new download speed, which went from 3 to 4Mbps to between 23 to 24Mbps. She does acknowledge technical issues when connecting the new modem but that the problem was quickly resolved by the technical support team of Dodo, her chosen ISP.

Technical problems do seem to be a common thread among consumer accounts – Nedlands resident Deidre H spent four days without Internet, phone or Foxtel TV following an Internet outage from Telstra. She states that Telstra made sure to contact her twice daily throughout the ordeal and that she is still happy with the switch. However, she does admit that the Internet speed is not markedly different to what she had before.

Grant M of Prestons, although now content with his upgrade, was disconnected for about a week after he switched to the NBN using the Fibre to the Node installation. A fault with the copper line between the node and the NBN optic fibre was to blame and appears to be a recurring issue as NBN is not responsible for the line from the node to the house. Other members like Narre Warren South’s Angela H are cautiously optimistic, claiming that “the NBN seems OK for now”.

Other members have not had such positive experiences with their NBN. Despite paying for the highest speed option (100Mbps), Glen Alpine’s Neil G states that the fastest speed he’s ever reached is 65Mbps. “Last night’s speed was only 27Mbps. I don’t get dropouts as such but the speed was only 27Mbps,” he asserts. In his opinion, the slow NBN speeds can be attributed to four factors: (1) poor planning by NBN (2) the use of old copper wire from node as opposed to fibre (3) ISPs need to support both NBN and non-NBN customers in this period of transition and therefore cannot give full bandwidth for NBN consumers, and (4) there are not enough ports to connect everyone individually, forcing customers to share bandwidth. Neighbour Megan S has had a different experience, stating that speeds are okay but that the Internet drops out constantly. Her assertions are backed up by those of fellow Glen Alpine resident Peter D and Rosemeadow’s Gwen H.

Como’s Elizabeth P hasn’t signed up for the NBN yet, but she’s seeking advice from others through Nabo and has heard a couple of unpleasant stories. She shares the story of a home that received a visit from an certain ISP. This ISP installed a box connection towards the front of the house, despite the fact that the home’s existing modem was towards its rear. The home was unable to access the Internet and, when they finally got in touch with the ISP, were told that there would be an additional fee of $140 to extend the connection to their modem. Elizabeth spoke with another woman who states her computer speed has dropped and she was forced to move her landline next to her computer, into a part of the house where she subsequently has difficulty hearing it ring. Elizabeth also mentions the existence of NBN scams that have particularly targeted individuals 65 years old and over as well as her concern over older and vulnerable residents allowing unknown workmen into the house.

A definite completion date of the NBN rollout does not appear to have been agreed upon but you can get an estimated time of when the NBN will be available in your area via their website. Once it is available in your suburb, you’ll have 18 months to transition to the NBN before your previous services are switched off. We encourage Nabo members to continue sharing their experiences to help each other make more informed decisions in what has proved to be a somewhat confusing period.

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