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Here’s why I’m not moving to the NBN on the Southside

By Chris Steel MLA 17 July 2017 32

The National Broadband Network (NBN) had the potential to revolutionise Australia’s internet infrastructure.

Fast and reliable broadband is vital to the way we will provide health services, deliver a world class education, do business, deliver smart infrastructure and build a strong and growing economy.

That is why my Federal Labor colleague, Gai Brodtmann MP has run a vigorous campaign to bring the NBN to Canberra, petitioning the Federal Government and asking members of the community to send in their speeds, advocating on behalf of suburbs that are still stuck with ADSL.

I have campaigned with Gai on the NBN because it is also one of the biggest issues in my electorate on the Southside. And in just over a months’ time, and after years of delays, the NBN will be switched on in my neighbourhood.

At the last Federal election Labor committed to roll out Fibre to the Home (FFTH) in new premises, reflecting Labor’s longstanding commitment in establishing the National Broadband Network to deliver fast and reliable broadband.

Unfortunately Labor lost the Federal election, and what we have been left with under two terms of a Liberal Government is the slow roll out of a second grade network of Fibre to the Node (FTTN). FTTN uses the old and unreliable copper network to connect homes, rather than connecting the fibre directly.

Despite the Coalition’s downgrades to the NBN to FTTN, I was very optimistic about the benefits of any small improvement to internet speed. However, as my suburb’s NBN connection date in September becomes closer, I am now asking myself whether I will in fact I take up the NBN.

For a start, the cost is significantly more for faster speeds. The price of NBN is $99.99 a month for limitless broadband up to 100Mbps on iiNet.

The competitor is the existing TransACT VDSL 2 fibre network which is now owned by iiNet. Both VDSL2 and the NBN are both FFTN ( in established neighbourhoods).

iiNet retails the VDSL 2 service at $79.95 per month for unlimited. This is significantly cheaper than the NBN option and my experience has been that it is fast and reliable.

I would be prepared to pay for faster broadband. However, even with a connection speed of up to 100mbps there is no guarantee that the NBN will be any faster than the VDSL 2 network which provides speeds up to 80Mbps download /20Mbps upload.

The speed of the NBN will depend significantly on how far people are away from the node, and no one can know for sure what speed they will achieve until they are connected.

As if they were listening to my internal deliberations on this issue, my internet service provider (ISP), iiNet sent through a very handy email this week:

‘You’ve probably been hearing a lot about the NBN™ lately, so we thought we’d help clear a few things up.

That’s because our VDSL2 network is already delivering reliable, high-speed internet with speeds of up to 80Mbps available.

The NBN™ will not be replacing the network which powers your current VDSL2 broadband service.

This means that you can keep your current VDSL2 broadband for as long as you’d like. You don’t have to switch to the NBN™.’

My reading of this email is that iiNet is concerned about their VDSL 2 customers being let down if they transition to the NBN (FTTN), even if they remain with iiNet as an ISP.

If the NBN cannot deliver speeds faster and more reliable than VDSL2, it would appear to be a seemingly unnecessary and expensive duplication of our existing services that have been around as early as 2009 across a large part of Canberra.

Now in fairness, the NBN Co does claim that:

FTTN sets us up very well should the demand for faster speeds arise and a move to fibre to the curb (FTTC)– we are very much designing the network with future upgrades in mind’.

I certainly hope that the Federal Government does upgrade the NBN to FFTC in the future, because in short term i’m not yet convinced that moving to NBN (FTTN) as it stands, is a better option than VDSL 2 on speed or price.

Of course, there are many suburbs on the Southside including Gleneagles that do not currently have access to VDSL2. In fact, some suburbs in Tuggeranong have some of the slowest internet speeds in Australia, and for them the new NBN connection will make a huge difference to their lives and businesses.

Nonetheless, it is unfortunate that that the choice is a second grade NBN using the old unreliable Telstra copper network.

So until I’m convinced by the evidence I’ll be sticking with the old TransACT network.

And for those who voted and campaigned for the real NBN – the one that was supposed to connect fibre to the home –there’s only one person to blame, and that’s the former Minister responsible, and now Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull.

What’s your experience? Is NBN (FTTN) any faster than your previous VDSL2 connection?

What’s Your opinion?


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32 Responses to
Here’s why I’m not moving to the NBN on the Southside
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gazket 6:52 pm 26 Oct 17

Labor forced the NBN on the public in the first place.
Governments let the infrastructure fall onto disrepair in the first place through the same thing as today . Lazy. incompetent government who couldn’t estimate cost on a trip to Woolworths . You would just whine they want peanut butter, while you want vegemite.

Lucy Baker 1:24 pm 26 Oct 17

WTF? NBN blithely tell us that we will be forced to give up our home phones. I keep my phone line for the exact reason that it operates without electricity in an emergency. I just want my copper home phone and high-speed mobile. I’m not going to sign up to the NBN, particularly as they won’t tell me how far from the nearest node my house is.

dungfungus 12:18 pm 25 Oct 17

gooterz said :

I still wonder if this is so important then why didn’t ACT Labor just buy back the transact network and upgrade it to FTTH.
Seems much more of an investment over light rail.

Instead they backed behind getting FTTH rolled out in North Canberra (Which also happened to be their centre of voting). South Canberra got nothing at all.

Canberra is such a small place that the rollout of a fibre network would be far more cost effective than other states because there is only one major population centre and there is little need to run long strings of fibre across empty space.

The original model for funding the NBN was broken, the CVC charges were the nail in the coffin. It meant that everyone suffered for speed because of the crazy pricing or everyone suffered from congestion. It also had little in the way of back haul.

NBN was designed to increase competition. iinet is now owned by TPG and there are only really 4 players in the market today. Seems it was always going to be a failure

The TransACT FTTH only worked were there were Actew power poles in the backyard. The government deemed about 30 years ago that all power connections in Canberra from then on be underground so this is why a lot of the newer suburbs in Tuggers missed out. I also heard that Telstra underground ducts would not carry the TransACT cables for what reason I do not know. I am glad the ACT Government didn’t buy TransACT. Indirectly they had already lost $54 million on it at the time it was sold.

gooterz 9:33 am 25 Oct 17

I still wonder if this is so important then why didn’t ACT Labor just buy back the transact network and upgrade it to FTTH.
Seems much more of an investment over light rail.

Instead they backed behind getting FTTH rolled out in North Canberra (Which also happened to be their centre of voting). South Canberra got nothing at all.

Canberra is such a small place that the rollout of a fibre network would be far more cost effective than other states because there is only one major population centre and there is little need to run long strings of fibre across empty space.

The original model for funding the NBN was broken, the CVC charges were the nail in the coffin. It meant that everyone suffered for speed because of the crazy pricing or everyone suffered from congestion. It also had little in the way of back haul.

NBN was designed to increase competition. iinet is now owned by TPG and there are only really 4 players in the market today. Seems it was always going to be a failure

dungfungus 2:23 pm 21 Jul 17

E Loomes said :

You can get much much cheaper NBN packages here in Canberra than those Iinet is offering. I am moving to the NBN just to get as far away from Iinet as possible and to pay less. Iinet, who offer unlimited data, charges through the nose for its services and is virtually uncontactable when there are problems. I use a fraction of 50 GB data every month, perhaps because I don’t watch a lot of movies, play games or download internet research very often. TransAct provided a local industry, with local jobs, and we joined as soon as they arrived. Sadly, they’re gone. Federal Labor were offering a better form of NBN but it never got off the ground. I’m choosing reality, rather than wait for pie-in-the-sky promises which deliver nothing to Canberra residents right now. So It’s the NBN for me, goodbye Iinet, and who knows? the NBN may actually be improved in the future.

“Federal Labor were offering a better form of NBN………..”
They still are but details and costing are still in the mail.

E Loomes 10:45 am 21 Jul 17

You can get much much cheaper NBN packages here in Canberra than those Iinet is offering. I am moving to the NBN just to get as far away from Iinet as possible and to pay less. Iinet, who offer unlimited data, charges through the nose for its services and is virtually uncontactable when there are problems. I use a fraction of 50 GB data every month, perhaps because I don’t watch a lot of movies, play games or download internet research very often. TransAct provided a local industry, with local jobs, and we joined as soon as they arrived. Sadly, they’re gone. Federal Labor were offering a better form of NBN but it never got off the ground. I’m choosing reality, rather than wait for pie-in-the-sky promises which deliver nothing to Canberra residents right now. So It’s the NBN for me, goodbye Iinet, and who knows? the NBN may actually be improved in the future.

wildturkeycanoe 6:34 pm 20 Jul 17

“Who needs 100Mbps?”. That isn’t the entire issue. You are talking about download speed there, but upload speed [or lack thereof] is what makes or breaks the service. 20Mbps might suffice for 3 teenagers doing homework on their tablets whilst you download a Foxtel movie, but what if you only get 1.5Mbps to upload photos to the cloud? Impossible. I already tried cloud services and managed a few hundred photos in a 24 hour period. Our important pics and videos would take a month of continuous uploading to save to the cloud and whilst doing so disrupts all the downloads, effectively making our internet useless. Unless the NBN guarantees a decent level of upload to complement the fast speeds, it won’t be much improvement on oir present ADSL2. It seems that to get these fast speeds, if the copper into your house can handle them, you also need to take out a second mortgage to pay for it. I fear instead of getting NBN, many people will be left with no affordable internet at all. Reviews on forums already show what a backwards step the NBN’s FTTN has become.

spades 4:35 pm 20 Jul 17

Read up on the Cisco whitepaper on “The Zettabyte Era”. Global Internet traffic to TRIPLE in 5 years from 2016.

So while you continue to read your paper Canberra Times, the rest of us are being overloaded with data that we can’t download on crappy FTTN.

The paper also talks about “wireless” devices but they include wifi devices. An iPad is wireless but typically connects to a home wireless network, which is still typically connected to fixed/wired internet. Sure someone can say all their home devices are wireless, but they’re also likely to still be connected to a wireless router on fixed wired internet.

spades 4:26 pm 20 Jul 17

dungfungus said :

I think we could all agree that wireless will supercede everything in the next 5 – 10 years so all that stuff in the ground and on the poles will become redundant.

In the meantime the printed Canberra Times is “interactive” enough for most of us otherwise they wouldn’t still be printing it, would they?

No it won’t, not in 5-10 years. Are you suggesting that households will access the internet primarily via mobile telcos? That won’t happen anytime soon, certainly not within a decade.

And no, printed Canberra Times it’s not interactive enough for “most” of you, maybe “some” of you.

dungfungus 1:00 pm 20 Jul 17

spades said :

dungfungus said :

There must come a time when the cables will go, surely, so that will leave everyone in the same boat because TPG are calling the shots now.

Well there comes a time when everything in this world will come to an end. Jut a matter of when. When the TransACT cables go lets just hope FTTP is ready by then.

The issue with the Libs’ FTTN is that while the speeds it offers is more than enough, it is not future proof. FTTP today is up to 100Mbps but the cables themselves can handle 1Gbps. That’s saying a lot. We may not need to dig up and replace these cables for decades. Copper from FTTN nodes will need to be replaced WAY earlier than that. The long term costs will no doubt be more expensive than if we went FTTP today.

Yes 50-100Mbps is more than enough for the average household, but for how long? In our household we already stream up to 3 simultaneous HD services. Our ~50Mbps iiNet VDSL2 can handle it fine, but as content and technolgies advance it may be that in 5 years, UHD is considered the norm. A 50Mbps connection may struggle streaming 3 UHD content. Furthermore, a lot of websites are on average just increasing on content. Go to something like Canberra Times. Observe the amount of media, videos and anything interactive on it. I guarantee that in 10 years the content downloaded from the same website will more than double. Ads themselves may be in HD/UHD.

That’s why I find those asking “Who needs 100Mbps?” narrow minded. Yeah we don’t need it now, but I prefer that my street wasn’t excavated every 5-10 years because cables need to be upgraded.

I think we could all agree that wireless will supercede everything in the next 5 – 10 years so all that stuff in the ground and on the poles will become redundant.

In the meantime the printed Canberra Times is “interactive” enough for most of us otherwise they wouldn’t still be printing it, would they?

spades 10:57 am 20 Jul 17

dungfungus said :

There must come a time when the cables will go, surely, so that will leave everyone in the same boat because TPG are calling the shots now.

Well there comes a time when everything in this world will come to an end. Jut a matter of when. When the TransACT cables go lets just hope FTTP is ready by then.

The issue with the Libs’ FTTN is that while the speeds it offers is more than enough, it is not future proof. FTTP today is up to 100Mbps but the cables themselves can handle 1Gbps. That’s saying a lot. We may not need to dig up and replace these cables for decades. Copper from FTTN nodes will need to be replaced WAY earlier than that. The long term costs will no doubt be more expensive than if we went FTTP today.

Yes 50-100Mbps is more than enough for the average household, but for how long? In our household we already stream up to 3 simultaneous HD services. Our ~50Mbps iiNet VDSL2 can handle it fine, but as content and technolgies advance it may be that in 5 years, UHD is considered the norm. A 50Mbps connection may struggle streaming 3 UHD content. Furthermore, a lot of websites are on average just increasing on content. Go to something like Canberra Times. Observe the amount of media, videos and anything interactive on it. I guarantee that in 10 years the content downloaded from the same website will more than double. Ads themselves may be in HD/UHD.

That’s why I find those asking “Who needs 100Mbps?” narrow minded. Yeah we don’t need it now, but I prefer that my street wasn’t excavated every 5-10 years because cables need to be upgraded.

dungfungus 9:14 am 20 Jul 17

JC said :

dungfungus said :

spades said :

OLydia said :

My understanding is that when the NBN is up and active in a suburb, the residents will eventually have to move on to it – usually 6-12 months – as the old copper wire network will be closed down. You have no choice but to move to the NBN or else rely on expensive mobile internet.

Telstra copper, yes, but TransACT VDSL2 is in TransACT/iiNet’s own private copper network. It won’t be switched off.

Because the old Transact VDSL could only be connected via Actew power poles in the backyard it was only available to about 50,000 homes in Canberra. A lot of homes built from about 20 years ago have underground power so they could never get the service anyhow.

There must come a time when the cables will go, surely, so that will leave everyone in the same boat because TPG are calling the shots now.

TPG have made it clear Transact is staying along with the ex Transact HFC in Victoria they also own.

Like they made it clear about other things here?

https://delimiter.com.au/2015/09/04/tpg-pledges-to-retain-iinet-internode-brands-call-centre/

Within 30 days of that pledge the Canberra call centre disappeared.

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