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

By Chris Steel MLA - 17 July 2017 28

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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28 Responses to
Here’s why I’m not moving to the NBN on the Southside
1
dungfungus 11:08 am
17 Jul 17
#

So, when Labor win the next election (it’s London to a brick on they will), will anything change?

2
Grail 11:27 am
17 Jul 17
#

I live Southside, and I would prefer not to have NBN if it means moving to MTM FTTN. Two options I would prefer are a) wait for Labor to get back in Government, and do all the petitioning and cage-rattling at that point, or b) pay TransACT to keep rolling out their FTTN network.

At least TransACT will do it properly the first time round rather than wasting time on VDSL over crappy copper.

Every time you hear about NBN “remediating” old copper by replacing it with new copper, that was a wasted opportunity to replace copper with fibre. They are deliberately following this course of action to make transitioning to FTTP at a later date as expensive as possible.

So for the meantime, please keep NBN FTTN out of my suburb. I am at the very end of the telephone wiring in my street, though I am lucky and my ADSL manages 2Mbps reliably. VDSL2+ will not cope.

3
Garfield 11:44 am
17 Jul 17
#

At home my non NBN download speed has normally been between 5 & 7 Mbps, which is adequate for most things but it would be nice if it were faster. At work with NBN FTTP with a maximum speed of 25 Mbps I seem to get around 18 – 22. I can’t understand why NBN has been provided to areas of Canberra that can already get up to 80 Mbps when there are areas of Tuggeranong that can’t even reach 1/10th that speed. I also can’t understand why any home would need speeds of 100 Mbps at the moment. I see some difference between home and work, but its not huge. I suspect the observed difference between 100 and 20 Mbps would be even smaller. I was talking to someone the other day who said their wifi dongle gave them a speed of 26 Mbps recently. If NBN FTTN can quadruple my home speed, I suspect that will keep me going for at least 5-10 years and if it comes with a later upgrade to FTTC that lifts speed even further, NBN as restructured by Turnbull is probably set to meet my needs for the next 20+ years.

4
John Moulis 11:58 am
17 Jul 17
#

I can remember that terrible day Abbott’s government was elected. The NBN website was completely disabled and there was a note at the top saying the site would be unavailable until the new government decided whether the NBN would go ahead or not. It stayed that way for a year. I remember the closing year of the Labor government seeing the proper FTTH NBN rolling out in Gungahlin and marginal electorates like Tasmania and hoping we would be connected before the barbarians stormed the castle. Unfortunately that race against time was lost and we are also getting the second rate NBN in September. It hardly seems worth it.

5
Mysteryman 12:57 pm
17 Jul 17
#

John Moulis said :

I can remember that terrible day Abbott’s government was elected. The NBN website was completely disabled and there was a note at the top saying the site would be unavailable until the new government decided whether the NBN would go ahead or not. It stayed that way for a year. I remember the closing year of the Labor government seeing the proper FTTH NBN rolling out in Gungahlin and marginal electorates like Tasmania and hoping we would be connected before the barbarians stormed the castle. Unfortunately that race against time was lost and we are also getting the second rate NBN in September. It hardly seems worth it.

You’re got a vivid imagination.

6
Chris Steel MLA 1:18 pm
17 Jul 17
#

dungfungus said :

So, when Labor win the next election (it’s London to a brick on they will), will anything change?

dungfungus said :

So, when Labor win the next election (it’s London to a brick on they will), will anything change?

Labor has always been committed to a real NBN. Have a look at Federal Labor’s NBN policy from the election last year: https://cdn.australianlabor.com.au/documents/Labors_Positive_NBN_Policy.pdf

The point is that Labor’s policy would have been implemented if Labor had been elected, but that didn’t happen and now the Coalition are continuing to roll out a second-grade network.

7
ExTransACT 3:09 pm
17 Jul 17
#

Mr Steel, It is very disappointing to see you actively advertising against local businesses. Being a former TransACT employee I/ we were truly shafted when iiNet then TPG took over TransACT and shutdown the local support and call centres sacking all the local Canberra staff.

Why would you support a monopoly who does not support Canberra ? The OLD TransACT had local support and local jobs, the new one does not. 1 hour wait times to speak to someone in South Africa or the Phillipines is what you get for supporting them.

At least the NBN is an open network and an opportunity for local business to once again build on their quality local support.

You Sir, are supporting the enemy. The enemy of progress, the enemy of competition and the killer of hundreds of local jobs.

8
dungfungus 5:43 pm
17 Jul 17
#

Chris Steel MLA said :

dungfungus said :

So, when Labor win the next election (it’s London to a brick on they will), will anything change?

dungfungus said :

So, when Labor win the next election (it’s London to a brick on they will), will anything change?

Labor has always been committed to a real NBN. Have a look at Federal Labor’s NBN policy from the election last year: https://cdn.australianlabor.com.au/documents/Labors_Positive_NBN_Policy.pdf

The point is that Labor’s policy would have been implemented if Labor had been elected, but that didn’t happen and now the Coalition are continuing to roll out a second-grade network.

That link relates to “a plan”. It is a big leap from a plan to a commitment and even a commitment isn’t binding but when in opposition anything can be pledged with impunity.

As I understand it, the current NBN offers FTTH for those who want/need it but most people will be happy with the standard offer so let’s face it, nothing will really change.

9
Chris Steel MLA 8:44 pm
17 Jul 17
#

ExTransACT said :

Mr Steel, It is very disappointing to see you actively advertising against local businesses.

Being a former TransACT employee I/ we were truly shafted when iiNet then TPG took over TransACT and shutdown the local support and call centres sacking all the local Canberra staff.

Why would you support a monopoly who does not support Canberra ?.

I’d be quite happy to jump on to the NBN if it is faster, even if I have to pay more.

Labor set up the NBN Co to establish a fast and reliable network. If it is truly delivering that now with the Coalition’s change to FTTN then I’m all ears.

10
watto23 8:54 pm
17 Jul 17
#

dungfungus said :

As I understand it, the current NBN offers FTTH for those who want/need it but most people will be happy with the standard offer so let’s face it, nothing will really change.

While it is technically possible, they have made the ability to upgrade to FTTP as difficult as possible. They won’t even talk to you until a certain stage has been pass in the rollout. The Liberal party acted on the donations of those who didn’t want the competition and disruption the FTTH NBN would have provided. Big companies who can’t fend for themselves against startups using the NBN to provide quality service. It also would have been bigger competition for Telstra, the same company that for years have been trying to screw over the competition.

The NBN has been one of the biggest political tragedies in recent times. All because of short sighted views and protectionism by the Liberals. The Labor NBN policy was extremely with liberal voters also and if anything a bi-partisan approach should have been taken. We all know Tony Abbott doesn’t know the meaning of negotiate and thus a nation building project to rival all others has been screwed over.

11
Jamie Wheeler 10:39 pm
17 Jul 17
#

ExTransACT said :

Mr Steel, It is very disappointing to see you actively advertising against local businesses.

Being a former TransACT employee I/ we were truly shafted when iiNet then TPG took over TransACT and shutdown the local support and call centres sacking all the local Canberra staff.

Why would you support a monopoly who does not support Canberra ?

The OLD TransACT had local support and local jobs, the new one does not. 1 hour wait times to speak to someone in South Africa or the Phillipines is what you get for supporting them.

At least the NBN is an open network and an opportunity for local business to once again build on their quality local support.

You Sir, are supporting the enemy. The enemy of progress, the enemy of competition and the killer of hundreds of local jobs.

I agree that what iiNet has done to Transact after buying it is appalling. I used to enjoy local support with Transact, now it’s an hour wait to talk to South Africa. They have also made a horrendous mess of existing Transact services. Just recently I spent 5 hours on multiple calls to iiNet to get a Transact mobile phone moved to another provider. Now TPG bought iiNet and own nearly every large ISP in the country!

I don’t think Chris Steele is against Canberra workers and businesses. He is just making the point that the NBN in Canberra could have been so much better. With the coalition’s inferior design, in Canberra they just built a new FTTN network next to the existing established Transact built FTTN network. Why would people on VDSL2 switch to the NBN if the network is not better a better design and is possibly less reliable? I’m staying put unless the NBN is improved in future. That’s hardly likely for a long while now given the huge cost blowouts and delays.

12
dungfungus 11:10 pm
17 Jul 17
#

ExTransACT said :

Mr Steel, It is very disappointing to see you actively advertising against local businesses.

Being a former TransACT employee I/ we were truly shafted when iiNet then TPG took over TransACT and shutdown the local support and call centres sacking all the local Canberra staff.

Why would you support a monopoly who does not support Canberra ?

The OLD TransACT had local support and local jobs, the new one does not. 1 hour wait times to speak to someone in South Africa or the Phillipines is what you get for supporting them.

At least the NBN is an open network and an opportunity for local business to once again build on their quality local support.

You Sir, are supporting the enemy. The enemy of progress, the enemy of competition and the killer of hundreds of local jobs.

“The OLD TransACT had local support and local jobs……………………………………………………”

It also had continuing losses and its shareholders, including the ACT government through it’s shareholding in a government owned corporation, lost over $200 million when it was sold to iinet.

No one knows yet just how much the NBN, whose genesis was literally on the back of an envelope and never had a business plan, will end up costing the taxpayers of Australia.

13
spades 1:29 pm
18 Jul 17
#

The author’s argument is completely valid, but it really is only valid to south Canberra residents who have access to TransACT VDSL2.

Too many words written on a scenario that just affects a small number of people relative to the overall impact of the NBN nationwide.

For the record though I agree with the author. I am on VDSL2 myself and have no intention of moving to NBN FTTN.

14
calyptorhynchus 1:31 pm
18 Jul 17
#

iinet are a bunch of crooks, ten years ago I was with them and one day they casually sent me a bill for $500 for one month (usually $50). No amount of telephoning or written enquiries would get them to reveal any details of my alleged use of bandwidth over my allowance. So I quit them and have been with another provider ever since.

15
calyptorhynchus 1:32 pm
18 Jul 17
#

Nor will I support a second-rate NBN.

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