Five Mistakes People Make Comparing NBN Plans

With Telstra formally signing its deal to sell off the copper network this week, the odds of the National Broadband Network (NBN) project going through to completion have risen substantially. When you're contemplating what kind of NBN service you might acquire once it becomes available in your area, make sure you've got all the facts.

There are already many NBN plans you can choose from, and we've detailed them all in our regularly-updated Planhacker listings. As more providers come on board and the coverage area for the NBN expands, then there will be even more options to choose from. Eventually, the copper network currently used to provide ADSL will be decommissioned and NBN connections will be the only option, but that moment is a long way off.

In the meantime, however, there's lots of discussion of current NBN pricing, much of it taking the form of panicky remarks like "What I have right now is perfectly adequate!" or "These deals are worse than what I can already get!" Unfortunately, these viewpoints often take a very limited view of the situation. Here are the five mistakes I keep seeing when people compare NBN prices in comments and on forums:

1. Not factoring in line rental

This is a basic but common error. Right now, unless you have a naked DSL service, you'll be paying both line rental for your phone and a separate fee for your broadband. With the NBN, this isn't necessarily the case — you can pay for broadband and nothing else. That needs to be factored into your calculations.

2. Not acknowledging that speeds on fibre are guaranteed

"I have ADSL2 and I can get 20Mbps!" you proudly proclaim. In that case, you're very unusual. ADSL2 speeds vary from premises to premises, depending on your distance from the exchange and the state of your copper wiring. The NBN arrangement provides guaranteed throughput. If you're lucky enough to get high speeds, that's great — but that doesn't mean everyone else can, or that you will indefinitely.

3. Not understanding other people may have less choice

"I have multiple ADSL2+ providers in my neighbourhood; competition has already given me choice!" Again, bully for you, but you're not typical. You don't have to even go outside of a capital city to find people whose choice of broadband is a single Telstra-owned service at best, which might not even be ADSL2+. It's a geographic lottery, and not one that just affects very remote areas (which will get satellite options, just as they have for many years).

4. Not recognising that there are varied options

Even with the half-dozen or so existing providers, there's a lot of variation. Some shape; some don't count uploads; some include calls as part of an overall NBN bundle. And we're at the very beginning of a nascent market.

5. Not acknowledging that wholesaling hasn't worked

Telstra's control of the copper network has not led to a truly competitive scenario. At one point, Telstra began selling ADSL plans to customers for less than it would sell them to other wholesalers. The ACCC has had to frequently intervene in the process, but delays of weeks or months remain the norm. Another common scenario: people are told they can't get ADSL2 from a rival selling a connection purchased from Telstra wholesale, but magically can get it connected through Telstra if they sign up through them. Even the Federal Opposition seems to agree that separating Telstra's wholesale and retail activities is essential.

Working out which NBN plan you want is not a five-second task. Like any communications purchase, you need to look at all the options and work out what meets your needs. Right now, most Australians can't get onto the NBN, and those in areas where it's available may still have other options. Complaining you don't like something you don't need yet to buy is not a good way to spend your time. When you do need to buy, look at what's available and make a sensible decision.


Comments

    6. You are an idiotic/Ignorant moron

    You don't really understand technology, so you buy into the Coalition crap that a hodge-podge solution of copper and wireless is a better solution that the NBN.

    You may also think that wireless can keep up with fibre in terms of speed which is completely untrue: http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2012/03/a-512gbps-fiber-optic-network-yes-please/

    I still don't understand how anyone can still believe that the NBN isn't a good idea.

    7. Thinking that everyone needs as much capacity as you.

    Australia needs a fibre BACKBONE network. That is quite different to running fibre to the home, which is what the NBN is.

    Making broadband capacity available everywhere is an admirable goal. Forcing the entire country to pay for it, when the majority of them are comfortable with their "last mile performance" is another thing.

    One need only look at the fact that the outback/rural areas *are* having to fall back on wireless options to see that "fibre to every home" is not technically necessary.

      This may be true *now*, but not so much in the future. It is even starting to not be true now.

      I live in a greenfields estate, after 3 months they finally turned on our copper service, and of course there are no ports left in the exchange... So I'm on wireless. My wireless service is patchy at best, and at peak times I can't even load Google. So wireless to me is pointless for a home setup. It's a good addon if you need data on the road, but no good for real internet usage.

      We're seeing websites content and internet services becoming more and more bandwidth hungry every year. Even if we don't need those speeds now (and the 12mbit plans I think we do at a minimum), I think we will in the near future. So why not preempt things? God knows the government never thinks to preempt anything else (ie the road systems) so bravo to them for getting it right for once.

      I think you misworded it. Shouldn't it be:
      7. Thinking that the capacity you have today will be adequate in a few years time.

      When I first got onto the internet it was before browsers and I had a 9600 baud modem. As content continues to grow more sophisticated (images, documents, movies, application, cloud-based applications, communications...) so does the bandwidth requirements.

        A 9600 baud modem?

        Luxury....

    While there are plenty of counter arguments to Pedant's comment above, his argument stands to a lot of reason and I'm surprised there aren't more high-profile faces putting that case forward.

      Which arguments by Pedant are you referring to? There's nothing there!

      If you mean the "need" for fibre backhaul

        Unfortunately his argument is not well thought out at all. He argues that since he does not need the NBN service he should not pay for it, presumably he means through his tax, otherwise when he doesn't want to pay consumer pr ices for access have fun with that when the copper is decommissioned.

        Anyway to the taxation argument, In this country we use tax as a measure to achieve multiple goals. The goals in this instance would be to redistribute and more importantly equalize the basic standard of service everyone can get for broadband. The second part is to improve infrastructure to improve productivity and to increase the populations Qaulity of Life.

        This type of idea is seen throughout many of the governments projects, for example.

        Parks - I don't know about you but I do not often go to a park (probably shame on me there), however, I still pay the tax that goes towards maintaining them.

        Libraries - Same deal, i do not use libraries but my tax dollars still fund this.

        Roads - Some people do not use the road system much or at all (rare case admittedly, but I am sure you could find someone who fits the bill)

        Telephone system - When it was originally implemented I am sure people originally did not want to pay tax for its roll out.

        the NBN is just an extension of normal taxation practice to provide a good or service that the market either does not wan't to in acceptable quantity and qaulity or can't.

          How can you compare the introduction to phone services to the introduction of NBN? We already have phone services and internet services now, but back with the introduction of the phone service we didn't have these services. So its quite irrational to compare.

            The NBN DOES NOT equate to the current broadband reality of Australia.
            The NBN is required for the long term evolution of communications in Australia. Do more research into the health, education and productivity benefits of high speed low latency networks. Then realise that these benefits are only in their infancy, and are rapidly growing.

              Yes a tech savvy place like South Korea have shown us that even after 10 years of fibre, these benefits are still being dreamed of. Back in reality though, you must have to ask why if it's possible now for these benefits they are not being realised already in countries like South Korea?

                Who says they aren't? How can you know the social and economic situation of South Korea without it's previous and current technological developments?

                Your point has no merit.

                  Sorry i just relied on the words of Malcolm Turnbull who has researchers to do that job for him. But if you know better, then please provide your links to your resources.

                Yes i can see the productivity increases with greater downloads for a small minority of users (business/home office/etc), but today the largest data usage worldwide is torrents and I cannot see how we gain from someone watching a movie or playing a game that little bit quicker?

                  I'm not saying we need to downlaod movies and games. You're saying that, (straw man) as it's the only benefit you can see in high speed internet.

                  I recommend you read this article "The Great NBN Fail"
                  http://www.abc.net.au/technology/articles/2012/02/21/3435975.htm

            Well Bill it is easy to compare the introduction of phone services to the introduction of NBN. When the POTS was introduced/built by the Australia Govt in the 1950's, they also passed into law the obligation that the phone company provide a POTS service to all Australians who wanted it. So the old PNG built the copper line system which all Australians came to accept/demand as a minimum service.
            That law is still on the books and was applied to Testra when it was sold/privatized.

            In simple terms the NBN is just updating the copper with fibre. And with that will give everyone the same standard of service.

            When the copper was 1st built, faxes was not known about as were other uses of non voice comms. I am sure we can say the same about fibre and the use of the internet into the future.
            We apply the same idea to the mail services with Australia Post. This is a nation building project for all Australians all over Australia.

            When phone services first started the cost of connection was quite high and the further away from the exchange the more pricey it became. Many people relied on the telegram service

    I dont think people actually believe that the Coalition option will deliver a better solution - I think the argument is that its a substantially cheaper solution.

    The argument that many areas (not just rural) do not get equal access to the internet is sound - my folks are almost in a dead zone. However, like any government spend, the costs need to be weighed against the benefits - and one cant help but wonder if the $35.9 billion might have been better spent on something else. http://www.nbn.gov.au/frequently-asked-questions/nbn-costs-and-pricing/how-much-will-the-nbn-rollout-cost/

    By way of example, how many billion would it take to substantially improve the Australian Health Care system? In 2009, the Labour Government proposed a Federal Takeover of the Health System - this was costed at between $3 & $6 billion (it never happened). It is just my view, but I would have preferred to see this program implemented, and suffered through slower internet speeds.

      But what everyone misses is the side benefits. For instance as soon as NBN is available in my area I can work from home instead of commuting 1 hour each way. Many businesses will be in this situation, they save on office space. The actual payoff is enormous. I'm paid by the hour, so the extra 2 hours per day I could work equates to $12000 a year, and the commuting costs are probably another $3000+. So for me, I'd be prepared to pay $500 a month for a similar service, but without the NBN it will never be offered. The Coalitions alternative would not provide guaranteed bandwidth, so I'd have to go to work, just so I can guaranteeably work. I'm by no means the only one. Then you add on the reduction in road traffic and congestion and suddenly the cost benefit gets even higher. It won't work like this for everyone, but just the reduction in road and public transport congestion is worth $4billion per year for 10 years. Think what transport infrastructure spending runs at right now. And demand for that is growing faster than can be kept up with. What is needed is solutions like the NBN that allow decentralization. I suspect the NBN is much like the canals in Britain that facilitated a complete revolution in British society of the era.

        One of the side effects of the NBN, in fact, being improved health care. With improved data transfer through the NBN and the switchover from analogue to digital transmission for television, entertainment units (formerly simply tvs) become smarter and capable of improved media handling. This technology can then by put to use for telehealth purposes, allowing medical examinations to be performed without the patient needing to leave their house. This saves on hospital time and bed space as well as reducing stress. This tech could be bootstrapped by just developing it directly at great cost, but by putting the NBN and other similar developments into place, the entertainment industry develop most of the tech without requiring further public spending AND we get a variety of other bonuses. But you won't get your cool 2-way tv/camera on wireless, and no usb blood pressure reader for it either.

        @Sme, lucky you, mate, to be able to work from home. If anyone in my workplace ever worked from home, management certainly wouldn't allow us to claim it as time worked, because they're old-school types who don't believe anyone could possibly be working if they were in a location not visible to managers while they were doing it. Nice to have managers who trust you (not).

      Two things with this.

      1. The NBN is being funded through bonds, that means debt. The NBN can get away with it because it is expected to make a return and pay for itself. Investment in other areas such as hospitals or as the Coalition likes to say roads, would not be able to be funded through roads, at least not in the same way.

      2. Now the entire $36 billion is not in one year, while it will not be perfectly uniform over the years until 2021 one could estimate that on average it would work out to be about 3-4 billion a year. comparing this with your suggestion with the health system which was allotted $60 billion this year alone, and social security and welfare which was allotted $120 billion this year. Also compare this with out annual GDP which is around 1.4 trillion.

      3. Also this completely ignores the savings to other industries this will cause. Several more reputable journalists have suggested that smart grid technology could save enough power to refund the cost of the NBN, add to this e - health initiatives, e - learning, business productivity boost and cost savings and it becomes easy to see why the NBN is a good idea.

        Mate, it's going to cost significantly more than $36 Billion!

        The rollout is already behind schedule an the take up rate is no where near expectations. You are still happy that your tax dollars are going to waste like they are?

          Also, Health, Welfare, Social Security are far more important than having the ability to download video gamez and moviez really fast.

            "having the ability to download video gamez and moviez really fast".

            Idiot. Really wish people would stop using this as a valid argument when clearly it isn't.

            Also, THe NBN has direct benfits to the Australian Health, Welfare and Social Security systems.
            The NBN will also be sold at the end of it's completion (for a profit), recouping its costs and more.
            You have no idea what you're talking about.

              So we have another Telstra? But worse because fixed line competition (i.e. HFC) is being shutdown by the NBN.

                Very funny Bill, we all get it now, you are just being facetious...surely?

          So Node Pony which schedule is that - would that be the one where NBN say it is about 9 months behind from a plan made about 3 years ago. Delays like what the Libs did in the Senate in delaying the NBN legislation for many months and PCCC guys changing a base plan of inter connections from 14 to 120 odd. All these things were totally out of the control of the NBN. And what about the States which say “do me first” but refuse to change the building connections from opt in to opt out.

    So if I live in area where Telstra is the only equipment in the exchange. Will I be able to get NBN and ditch my home phone ?

      That's the idea yes.

        If you're with telstra, no. They're going to milk their copper network for all it's worth, so if you're with them you will still be getting charged for your home phone, which will be copper, even though your NBN set up will come with 2 ports for phones and 4 for data.

          Close but not quite, those 4 ports are for 4 services. So you could theoretically have 4 ISP's connected). Your ISP will still likely need to provide a router.

      Yeah if you wait another 99 years and pay 99x more in taxes to pay off the huge cost of the NBN.... I'm all for FTTH BUT not so are out and with the current roll our plans it's just crazy and a complete and utter waist of money.. I chose to live in a city to benefit from the mass population, I understand if I live out back I should not expect in some parts power, water yet alone a fibre connection... this is what the fuss is about not the NBN but the amount of waist... Roll it out ASAP through all major cities who will benefit from it right away and get the best use out of it, the last few years have seen which major cities fully connected to the new network?

      If the at least the 3 main cities on the east/south coast of Australia had been connected large amounts of revenue could have been flowing into the system already paying down the borrowed cash, reducing the interest/borrowings and getting access to big corporations who can benefit the most...

      The argument is not if we need a NBN!

        What capital city do you live in? I live in the Inner West of Sydney and was actually quite surprised to see the NBN was being rolled out in several areas near me (though not my street) over the coming 12 months and some areas are online now.

          I live in Darwin and they've started the rollout here - should be all finished by early 2014. This is a big project and I think it's great to roll it out to regional centres first and iron out the kinks. Well done Labor.

        You are in error, the NBN is not payed for through taxes. It is paid for by those who use it's services. If you don't use the NBN you will not pay for it.

          But the NBN is forcing you to use it if you only want a phone service (that is not a mobile phone) by removing all analag phone cables.

            If you are a troll Bill, I have to congratulate you: you have been *highly* successful.
            Being completely honest though, do you believe that the telecommunications industry will be worse than it presently is, when the NBN is constructed?
            Do you honestly believe the NBN is not worth it?
            The facts are there, I've tried to explain them, and have directed you to them.

            Telstra and Optus own enough (although not all) that my point still stands; they are anti-competitive. ACCC agree. Even the Libs/Nats Agree.

            If wireless is such a good subsititute for Fibre "We don't need the white elephant fibre!", then why isn't Mobile voice, 3G and 4G considered competition to the "NBN monopoly"? No one is forced onto the NBN.

            The fact is, Optus and Telstra aren't getting paid to shut their equipment down, they are getting paid so that NBN can buy what they have already built, and make the NBN build cheaper. If they did not do this, Malcolm would be saying the NBN is needlessly wasting money digging trenches that are already there to use.

            There is so much Misinformation out there about the NBN, that I don't want to see your half baked opinions expressed on this site without being called out for what they are. Maybe I'm wasting my time? I'm not a mindless Labour supporter, but I actually see so much value in the NBN that I will vote for an AWFUL Labour government just to see it through.

              I am a troll for having a difference of opinion? Tunblor, this is why I have trouble with some of the NBN discussion. You're not allowed to disagree with it, otherwise you're a troll? Well how about if you agree with it you're a sheep??

                Bill you are not a troll for disagreeing, for a troll for the miss truths in your 'fasts'.

              The uptake of 3G and now 4G should be considered direct competition to the NBN.. Just the same way as people have been getting rid of their home phone lines to use their mobile phones for years. The number of new 3G and 4G connections far outway the number of new fixed connections and some of these wont want a fibre connection to their home, yet the NBN assumes that the uptake will almost be universal and one way they are going about that is paying Telstra to shutdown their analogue phone network. Ofcourse if everyone works from home, doesnt need to go out to the cinemas and everything is delivered through the NBN, then they ofcourse wont need a 3G mobile phone (or a mobile phone at all). But alas, not everyone wants to be stuck at home or can work from home.

                No, disagreement is good! But when disagreement is purely illogical and in the face of overhelming factual evidence, then I suspect trolling.

                If you say mobile uptake is in competition to the NBN, then we agree it is not a monopoly.

                Its unclear what the rest of your reply was saying: fact remains that there are so many benefits from the NBN that they easily jusify the expense. Its an excellent project and use of taxpayer funds.

                  Oh Bill, best laugh Ive had in ages.

                  The Tony Abbott engineering school. Absolutely no idea. Wireless and fibre are a complementary technology. What is quite often in the engineering fraternity quoted as the "village idiots communications plan"

                  If you understand basic communications technology you would reaslise wireless and fixed fibre are complementary technologies which the liberal parties village idiot (Tony Abbott) has failed to grasp this.

                  If you understood basic engineering you would understand the concept of future proofing which is exactly waht fibre is doing for the infrastructure install. You would also understand the concept of moores law which shows that you must furture proof in this sort of engineering. Suggesting wireless is a viable alternative is absolutely laughable, what do you think is used for back haul and backbones to all them wireless towers ? Fibre.

                  Then to quote malcolm turnbull's south korea report, I suggest you read all the errors with regards to that report. The NBN is vital and it is foolish to think otherwise.

                  Thankyou for such a good laugh, havent laughed so much in ages.

                It's an interesting point you make about mobile services being a competitor to a fixed line service. It could be, if it had the capacity. But before seriously considering the option I would have a look at the problems that Vodafone experienced when their network became over-subscribed.

                If we went down that path, and built a mobile network that could deliver a similar capability to the NBN, wouldnt we end up with a lot of cables running to transmitters that then provide a connection? How many transmitters would we need? I have a feeling that there would be mass outrage at the number of mobile towers needed to power that kind of network.

                @Bill, seriously, you ask why you are referred to as a troll, simply because you disagree? Well... imho it is because you simply won't accept that you may be wrong.

                As such you completley ignore all postive information, will completely contradict yourself and place new rules upon the NBN which no logical and rational, impartial human would.

                Firstly you say the NBN is a monopoly and then go on to say 3G and 4G should be considered direct competitors... think about it.

                Then say what we have now, ADSL/copper/HFC is good enough... inferring as some do, that future inventions will not occur, so we will not require NBN speeds. But then you tell us that fibre may be superseded by "some" magical new invention... think about that too!

                You also say the invention of the phone can't be compared to the NBN, because we didn't have phones. No but we had the telegraph wire and post mail, even pigeons...LOL. So the improvement comparison is apt.

                You bring out the old trusty "we are forced to use the NBN". So using that same logic, were we ergo forced to use bitumen roads when the dirt roads were fine? And we are also forced onto digital wireless, being forced onto digital TV etc. It's not forcing it is technological advancement, due to obsolescence. You do know what the T stands for in PSTN?

                Face it, copper is not able to handle our needs now. As clearly demonstrated, you buy an upto 20Mbps plan and receive 4 or 5. Would you accept that elsewhere? Say, pay for 4 new tyres for the car and get 2?

                Then you compare wireless. OMG, this has been exhausted. One word "complementary"!

                You then scream about the poor taxpayer. For goodness sake, the NBN is not being funded via general taxation revenue. It is being funded via, securities, bonds, BAF, the contingency fund etc and the cost will be repaid via NBN sales. The oppostion (whom you appear to faithfully mimmick) can't have it both ways, whinge about the NBN being off budget and then whinge taxpayer impost.

                Ok, so you don't like the NBN - well... tell us what is better.

                Do you want to do as the opposition will and return Australia's comms to Telstra?

                Build FTTN, which was already analysed by a panel of comms experts as inappropriate?

                Use Telstra's copper/HFC and Optus HFC, because that is competition, whilst ignoring the NBN will offer (via the traditionally recognised sole distributorship/many retailers) greatly improved competition, Australia wide, not just in major cities (already proven with new RSP's popping up)?

                Then speaking about the poor taxpayer, refuse to acknowledge the NBN is planned to repay itself, whereas the oppositions plan is for non refundable subsidies to be paid to the private sector to build and own our network. But of course accepting costly hospitals, schools, roads etc, can/should be governmnet built ?

                The list goes on and if you won't recognise by now what everyone except the opposition's faithful parrots already know, well I agree you are simply trolling.

                  I said NBN is a fixed line monopoly..

                  You can call me a troll if you want. It's hardly hurtful. And someone mentions that I must live on the second floor of an exchange, this is not true. I live in an area where NBN would benefit my connection greatly, i dont get ADSL at all and live 15km from the CBD and use WIMAX for a stable 10mbps connection. I also grew up in the country (SA) that now has WIMAX again at 10mbps with a ABG giving same prices as city. I am not saying that an NBN wouldn't be good, but I am calling B/S on that everyone wants it, needs it and is willing to subsidise gamers and movie downloaders for it. I work in IT too. I can see what you are saying about all these benefits, but all I say is show me the proof on the countries that have had it for years already and then I will begrudinly admit I am wrong. Something that I think RS you've never done in your life.

    Unfortunately you are wrong about points 1 and 2.

    While the speed is guaranteed., this is only within the NBN, not to the internet provider. There is a connectivity virtual circuit which customers of an internet service provider in a particular area share, so if the demand is higher, the throughput is lower, and is certainly not guaranteed.

    As to comparison of plan costs, it is not necessarily favourable. For example, an iiNet customer with a Home2 broadband plan and line rental from iiNet pays $49.95 for the internet and $29.95 for the phone line. The same customer on the NBN would pay $10 more for 12 Mbit/s, more for higher speeds.

    Perhaps when the NBN turns on its voice ports, ISPs will be able to provide voice services more cheaply.

      Point 1: states "you can pay for broadband and nothing else"

      iiNet Naked Home-1 = $69.95 - 100GB
      iiNet NBN12/1 = $59.95 - 200GB

      Point 2: The difference is the last mile, the 12/1, 25/5, 50/20, 100/40 NBN services can attain these speeds. ADSL in most cases can not attain the 20Mbps as advertised. You imply NBN connections could suffer from upstream contention, how is this any different from ADSL?

    Telstra supposedly not offering Naked services for the NBN

    Still going to need to pay for fixed line rental

    Why wasn't this factored into your article?

      Because Telstra is not the only NBN provider, and I wasn't detailing what every single provider offers. The important point is to compare relevant charges.

    Good article!
    Without getting into the whole political debate..............

    One other factor to consider is Hardware in your home.
    Does the provider you are considering require you to buy a (potentially) expensive modem with EWAN Port, or can you connect to the NTD with just an ethernet cable and/or any old wireless router?

    AND is the Phone service via the Fibre a phone service using the UNI-V port of the NTD, or is it a VoIP service tacked on top of the data service? If the latter you need to find out if you need VoIP hardware, and how the use of the VoIP service will effect your data allowance, and how use of the data service will effect your voice quality.

    Mike fr rivertel.com.au

    The other thing people keep on forgetting to mention is that most of the copper infrastructure for telecommunication in Australia for a FTTN or VDSL network would need replacing and it currently needs to be replaced to keep up with adsl2. The copper network was never designed in the first place to carry internet only VOICE!.
    The copper is corroding away and it is not replaced on a preventive means it is only patched on a needs to basis.
    Fibre does not deteriorate like copper it is a solution that could last us 100+ years so think of it that way. Copper has been around for 100 plus years now.

    unlike other government services the NBN WILL MAKE A ROI whereas most other services do not. even a 1% ROI is better than 0% or worse negative.
    It would cost in 100's of billions of dollars to fix the health care system that is why it is only patched up. Roads would need the same amount.

    The NBN will allow business to utilize video conference and working from home to most of there employees. e.g. some businesses could operate without even having to have a centralized business structure/HQ!.
    The technology to allow this is already here just we do not have the equivalent access needs to facilitate it.
    Also the nbn would help companies keep the carbon tax down, expenses down, less office space requirements, less strain on public transport. If the government get's the 7% ROI then that could help with social security, etc!.

    This is a INVESTMENT NOT A EXPENSE. As the coalition believes this to a expense and so does the media.

      Yes Tim, the person who invented fibre invented something that will never be bettered? Ofcourse we are going to want a fibre network for the next 100 years???, because that is what is good for today and maybe the next 30 years (or how ever long), but 100 years? Personally I think we'll have a couple genius' develop something that will surpass fibre, you never know, we could be able to get a wireless solution in the future that has a trillion bits per second? Who knows, 100 years is a long way away.

        But what if someone invents something better than the invention that is better than the fibre?
        Then we will have wasted money there, too! You're right, we should just wait until we can communicate at unlimited bandwidth telepathically for free, let what we have stay in the ground and rot.

          I am not saying we dont need something, I am saying we shouldnt destroy our options for the sake of building a monopoly. Why get rid of HFC, Copper? If its such a good idea, then why does it need so much selling? Good ideas sell themself.

            They aren't destroying options, they are destroying a monopoly. The NBN is Infrastructure that is wholesaled to retailers. The NBN is not a retailer; if it was then yeah, it would be a crappy monopoly.

            Telstra's copper that you're defending is an old system that is expensive to maintain, and is owned by a wholesaling and retailing monopoly. The choice is in the NBN, not in Telstra.

              Its a monopoly, they are handing out (our money, being customers of the NBN) to close down competition in the HFC/Copper. How is it not a monopoly?

                Because we are not customers of the NBN. We are customers of the retailers (iiNet, Internode, Telstra, Optus, AAPT, TPG....etc.) The NBN company will be a short-term owner of the infrastructure, which it will then sell off to many others. Retail competition on a level playing field, then wholesale competition. Not a Monopoly.

                Current situation that you are defending: Telstra, own everything. They sell this to every other internet provider and then undercut them with their retail options. Retail competition: as much as Telstra Allows. Wholesale competition: hardly. Monopoly.

                  Apologies, I wasn't very clear. NBN rent the infrastructure at a fixed and consistant price to the retailers: Level playing field.

                  Telstra currently rent their infrastructure to the retailers at whatever price they want, and then undercut the other retailers. Uneven playing field. Optus try and do the same thing: they have to, to survive.

                  Telstra dont own everything, they don't own optus infrastructure like HFC. You know what Optus is getting paid to shutdown to make NBN the only cabled option.

            Bill's comment - "Why get rid of HFC, Copper? If its such a good idea, then why does it need so much selling? Good ideas sell themself."
            Bill I think you are an example of why that sometimes does not work. :)

      You have no idea what expense means, or investment.

      And somehow the majority of Postal Workers, Teachers, Doctors, Policeman, Firemen, Accountants, and the like can now work at home, when going from 512kb/s to 50Mb/s suddenly enables them to do that?

      I don't mind the NBN but I do mind when pro-NBN people say some incredibly stupid things. Schools rarely use what e-tech they have anyway (public), and they're struggling with funding as is, the only recent 'innovation' (in the past 10 years) are video sharing systems used for education purposes (the videos in question are bad), and e-whiteboards (again, aren't use much unless required).

      I don't see this changing much considering people will teach with what they were taught at from uni, using whiteboards and textbooks (most schools can't afford projectors or laptops, whereas most peopel here seem to think private schools e-tech = everywhere).

      Remote doctors, yes for the outback (it could replace the aviation service a bit), videoconferencing for business possibly, my old school bought $50,000 worth of equipment for videoconferencing... which gets used once a month tops, as a replacement for phone calls (but no, suddenly 100Mb/s will cure cancer and fix this!) They have no one to conference WITH or a reason to do it.

    2. is complete crap, the NBN does not offer 'guaranteed' speeds...the resources is still a contended resources despite being a fibre build. The entry level examples provided by the NBN and against which the affordable prices are quoted refers to a 100:1 contention ratio...meaning rather than a guaranteed 12Mbps, this is actually shared between 100 users...and that is just at the backhaul level...before you get to sharing bandwidth for international traffic (where the majority of our traffic comes from).

    I agree with Pendant. Government's are here to fix market inequities. Our issue is our tyranny of distance, which is twofold; the distance our regional towns are from metropolitan markets, and the distance we are from the rest of the world. Our taxes should be going to fixing these market failures, building a fibre backbone and if anything more, putting more fibre capacity and redundancy into international links. Maybe we could extend the backbones to government services, education, health etc...then individuals and businesses can pay for fibre to their premise if they want it...

    And yes it is paid for by taxes...a 'wishful' 7% return on capital for a speculative venture is not a commercial return, it is subsidised by tax payers.

      Plus the earlier NBN customers are saying what a lot of people have been thinking. You might get 1gbps back to the ISP, but except for mirrored content, most of the traffic we use come from america and not all from high speed servers on high speed links. Some of the NBN customers are saying that their browsing is no quicker than ADSL because of this.

      If it isn't a commercial product, then why should it earn a commercial return?
      Aren't you saying it's just a "wishful" waste? Your assumptions aren't any more valid than the assumptions made by an independent multimillion dollar financial viability report.

      They offer 'guaranteed sync' speeds Houdini, so maybe not 'complete crap'.

      My ISP could under-contend their infrastructure to their hearts delight. Hell I could be their only customer only dedicated 1TB/s backhaul and I'm still not going to get faster than 3Mbps Down, 0.15Mbps up.

      You can't blame the NBN for anything. It's all up to the ISP (ie. competition).
      Can't say the same for the NBN.

      So maybe not "complete crap"..

      No the NBN is not being paid for out of general revenue taxation, therefore your complete comment is invalid, imo.

      http://www.smh.com.au/business/government-goes-global-to-raise-3b-needed-for-national-network-20110710-1h91o.html

      Another hoodwinked by the opposition, even though they are having a disgraceful each way FUD bet. I.e. claiming poor taxpayer, then claiming sneaky government keeping the NBN off-budget (non general revenue taxation)...

        For a couple years they are minimising the costs to the user (also could be called tax payer as I dont know too many internet users that dont pay tax one way or another). Then we will be getting greater than CPI increases when the analog lines are phased out and you have only one choice for fixed broadband. So in your sly words, no the taxpayer isn't paying for it (apart from GST added to the service), but i think you'll find that the majority of users who aren't heavy users will be subsidising the heavy users.

          More ridiculous logic Bill. Going by your interpretation of taxpayer subsidised, everything is taxpayer subsidised, as the end user/buyer is a taxpayer...!

          Ironically however, had you actually read the URL to the bonds you will note the government are looking "globally" for investors. So not just Aussie taxpayers.

          And please your claims of CPI increases is straight out FUD...

          http://m.zdnet.com.au/nbn-co-retreats-on-price-hike-clause-339327351.htm

          Then, my sly words...LOL? You do understand what tax is don't you?

          Seriously, I don't mind corresponding, but please educate yourself even minimally in relation to the NBN, rather than just always simply, blindly believing Turnbull (as you openly admit you do)!

            Ok, you win. We're going to have cheap internet, no one has to pay more than we currently pay, it's an unbelievable deal. Why haven't we done it before? I honestly dont believe Labor could deliver anything on time on money, so sorry for my scepticism that its such a great deal, that's going to fix all our problems (including traffic jams, health care, educate our kids to world standards, etc).

              That's where the less than average 7% ROI comes into Bill... it allows both affordability for consumers, while still providing a steady income stream for eventual repayment of the build.

              You can be flippant and immature all you like (traffic jams, very amusing). But all that simply shows is that you aren't really interested in anything but your already admitted political partiality.

              But Bill there's no winners or losers in these discussions, just facts and BS Bill.

              All I have done is supplied the facts (with accompanying data from external sources) leaving you with...?

              You guessed it.

    I guess I must be unusual then... but I already knew that. I've had those speeds for the last 4 years and unless that changes, NBN is a waste of time/money for me.

    Look, I know what you're saying but making me the "unusual" one because I actually do get the advertised speeds, consistency et al isn't the way to address the issue of misinformation and poor education that the NBN has been subjected to. Yes, not everyone (and it's the vast majority) gets the same level of ADSL2 service I get.. but I do.. so it's not a mistake for me to compare in that way.

      You never said what advertised speed you get on your ADSL 2 service? If they advertised less than 3Mb then fine but otherwise I think you must be mistaken.

      Well the good thing about the NBN (please take note to the first N) is that it's for all Australian's not just you, light487.

    There is always an argument something like "Well what happens if someone invents something that is faster than fibre"

    I'm no engineer/genius/physicist but I do know that Special Relativity states that nothing can exceed the speed of light, or to quote the wikipedia article

    "Therefore, if causality is to be preserved, one of the consequences of special relativity is that no information signal or material object can travel faster than light in a vacuum"

    Now correct me if I'm wrong, if we are already using fibre, which uses light for data transmission. Unless we break the laws of physics as we currently know them, the fastest we can transmit data is at the speed of light, which is through a fibre link.

    And the argument that wireless will eventually be faster than fibre is ludicrous, I can only assume that people don't realize that as advancements are made in other data transmission techonolgies such as wireless, advancements are also being made in fibre transmission technologies. And if the fastest we can transmit data is at the speed of light, then how can wireless technologies that don't transmit via light ever hope to match it, let alone surpass it

      While the core of your argument is true, some individual points you make are a bit off.

      The speed of data transfer has moved more from the physical speed of packets, to increasing the number of streams of packets (the light-in-fibre river flows faster than the electron-in-copper river: true. But the light river is also MUCH deeper and wider, faster data due to volume, and this is where the speed advantage lies).

      Wireless signals are at the speed of light too: different frequency of the same electro-magnetic radioation. Like Copper though, the simultaneous streams are more limited in wireless, due to interference.

      Copper, Wireless and Fibre have all been increasing in speed due to advances in reducing intereference between simultaneous streams of data. You're right that Fibre is far ahead though, and will stay far ahead.

        Ahh my mistake on the wireless signals, I'm guessing that a major difference would be that the signal is contained a lot better in fibre than in a wireless transmission, meaning less interference?

        Or am I hitting that point on a Friday afternoon where my brain has started shutting down for the week? lol

      If I am not mistaken, approximately 2 months ago scientists said that they did tests that went faster than the speed of light, and that nothing could beat the speed of light might actually not be accurate. Obviously a few years of testing and peer reviews to happen first, but never say never.

        Indeed Nov 2011 they did...

        BUT

        Feb 2012 this...

        http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2105353/Faulty-wires-CERN-test-results-debunked-Einsteins-theory-relativity.html

        http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-17139635

    Yep, exactly! Also there's only so many frequencies that travel far enough to be useful for telecommunications; and those that are, are divided up for TV signals, Military comms, Mobile phones, etc.

    In Fibre, more frequencies can be used, and they don't risk our national security, or worse, ruin the picture for My Kitchen Rules!

      I'm open to more over the air signals if they can specifically ruin the picture of shows like My Kitchen Rules and The Biggest Loser.

      And now even more off topic

      Does anyone else find it funny that channel ten is currently alternating between Masterchef and The Biggest Loser?
      Seems like a well thought out cycle, get everyone into the food mood so they pack on a few pounds, then get them into the exercising mood to lose those pounds so they wont feel bad about getting back into the food mood for the next series of Masterchef

        Si, while it is off topic, it makes more sense than Bill's posts :)

    you’ll be paying both line rental for your phone and a separate fee for your telephone line - That line makes no sense... It should be Seperate fee for your Internet and your Telephone Line.

    If you have been following the news they've recently found something that travels faster than light.. only by a small bit though.

    I clearly remember a school that got NBN was crying foul they misled about NBNs actual speed on 100mbit connection. Sorry to disappoint. Imagine that even with an unitlzed networrk with only a few hundreds of subscribers at that time was NOT getting their full speed. Imagine serveral million hoseholds on that connection.

      Yeah they haven't actually proved it yet and are now thinking it didn't actually occur.

      the thing is the aggregation of users is most noticeable on wireless, then copper then fibre. The argument is valid, but applies to all technologies. Also ISP's can offer proxies of data eg they store a copy of all the TV shows, music etc people are often downloading, such that they are really only downloaing from a local source not an international source.

        Lol, i cant see ISP's storing copyright material in caches, at the moment they get away with allowing their customers to download copyright material because they are not the police of internet traffic. If they were providing copyright material they'd be in court fairly quick.

          Bill Optus won their case in the High Court. So you are wrong on this topic too.

      They thought they did.

      Now they're not quite so sure. It could have been "bad wiring".

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-17139635

    It's very misleading to claim that the NBN will provide guaranteed "throughput". It will at best provide a guaranteed connect speed, the throughput will still depend on the source of the download & the load on the network, not to mention the capabilities of the ISP's equipment. This brings us to the real problem with the current network. . .available bandwidth to the rest of the world. No network will provide any improvement worth a damn until that is addressed.

    1) Line Rental. What about device rental? Some ISPs will be charging rent for the equipment they provide their customers. They may do the same thing for their ADSL plans, but any comparison of NBN plans must take this into account.

    2) Well, this one is just plain wrong. Even if we ignore the fact that the end-to-end speed is actually determined by the slowest link, there is the issue of CVC dimensioning. Cheaper ISPs are likely to try to save money by underdimensioning their CVCs. It is unlikely ISPs will publish these figures as they would be pretty meaningless to compare, but they will have an impact. There's no point paying for a 100/40 access if it is going to be choked with competing traffic at the back end.

    3) This is not an issue for comparing plans, but a justification for building the NBN. What is it doing here?

    4) This is a bit of a catch-all, isn't it? A lazy way of including the things you didn't think of without having to think of them.

    5) Thanks for the political speech, but not a plan comparison issue.

    Final score: 1 correct but missing an important component, 1 wrong, 1 overly broad, and 2 that are not actually comparison mistakes.

      @Brian,

      1. You don't HAVE to rent the equipment, and the equipment is nothing special. You will have a few options for your home setup, which can be very simple, just like an ADSL installation:
      a) you can buy it outright from your local electronics store; or
      b) you can have the outright cost subsidised by your ISP (like many do already); or
      c) you might even be able to use the equipment you have already, if you have an ADSL connection.

      2. True, but just like data speeds from ISPs and mobile carriers are compared today, NBN speeds will be reviewed and compared in the future. Competition between NBN ISP's will ensure those who have the best combination of price, speed etc will be the most popular - those who have under-invested or offer poor value for money will quickly lose business.

      3. It's a common mistake that people make. They assume that if their internet access is fast, reliable and affordable, then everyone else's is too - which is obviously untrue. The vast majority of ADSL connections do not reach anywhere near their full advertised speeds, whereas NBN connection speeds and stability will be much more reliable than any competing technology. Comparisons between ADSL/wireless/NBN plans is therefore a mistake....hence the inclusion of this point.

      4. Yes, it's a bit of a cop-out. But the point is valid, since there are various inclusions, exclusions etc in the NBN plans themselves. The other points are broader statements about differences in technology, delivery etc.

      5. Agreed - this is not really a point about comparisions, and shouldn't be in the list (maybe they just HAD to have 5 points, not 4). But the subject matter is relevant to the NBN philosophy as a whole.

    Very interesting and informative discussion. Is this the longest ever commentary on a lifehacker article? If not, what was?

    So still none the wiser. I purchase my Internet through mike's company above which I am very happy with. When and If he buys from the NBN, How do I get it. At the moment my exchange is Telstra equipment only. How will NBN be delivered to my door ? will they cable Fibre to my property ? or just to the exchange ? Will I be forced to continue to pay for a home phone as I read some telstra customers will once they get NBN. I don't want my home phone, It costs me over $400 a year for no purpose than to be bothered at teatime from survey takers and organizations soliciting donations but I can't get Naked ! - Will NBN solev this problem for me ?

      Southpatt, the answer to your question is YES.

      Why this was not addressed when Testra released their new NBN plans, seems to come down to money. Telstra will get more money from its NBN customers by charging a line rental as well. They have yet to invent VOIP. To get Naked, go to an ISP that has it. Guess Testra will invent VOIP when they MUST turn off the copper.

    If (7) wholesaling doesn't work, then the NBN is going to make things worse. Now at least at some exchanges competitors can put in their own DSLAMs and we have some competition. NBN will prevent any competition. And when its sold off it'll create a guaranteed monopoly. If the problem with Telstra ownership of the copper is the big problem then the NBN will just be worse. It'll be pay what we demand for what we choose to offer, or get nothing. After the disaster that was the selloff of all of Telstra including the copper, for the protection of consumers the fibre network ought to have competition designed and engineered into it not designed and engineered out of it.

      Good point Gordon about selling off a completed NBN. We have sold off our airports and I don't think they are better for it. I would rather keep a natural national monopoly in government control then private control.

        You are kidding Gordon aren't you?

        Company a) puts a DSLAM in a Telstra exchange and accesses Telstra's network and you believe that is competition.

        If you put a Saas steering wheel on your Holden Commodore it doesn't magically make it a Saas Commodore!

    The only difference between the 2 political parties is Labor FTTH now and Liberal FTTN now and FTTH within 10 or so years at a greater cost. Both parties want Telstra separated and the only way to guarantee a level playing field is to have ownership in a separate enity, whether that be NBN co or what ever, the problem is who can afford to set up such an enity. The private sector wont do it, which is understandable, there responsible to their share holders, the only alterative is a government supported enity
    Even if an alternative technology came along that was faster then fibre it could be decades before it was commecially available and affordable for rolling out. Fibre has proven its self over decades, its affordable and we have the trained technicians to install it. And yes it will be with us for the next 100 years or so. If you want to increse your bandwidth in say 50 year or so well you can have 2 optical fibres or 3 or 4 going into your home, just like now you have several spare telephone wires running to your house. I think the time for argument is well passed by both sides of politics. My own personnel opinion is that if the next govenment changes the current setup, financially and technologically it will be a giant step backwards for the Australian people and their economy. ( sorry for any typo errors)

    Thanks Jim

    But how will it be solved, - The NBN will run cable to my home ? or just use the copper ? as I explained - the only dslams in my exchange are telstra. it is a sub exchange and rack space and floor space is expent. Any isp who supplies me currently must go thru telstra.

      Hi Southpatt,

      I have tried numerous times to post a reply to you with links to NBNCo. But no luck????

      So Google NBN FAQ's and there are two different pages

      1. NBNCO - FAQ's

      2. Frequently asked questions - NBN - National Broadband Network

      You should be able to find what you are after there, If not there's a field where you can mail questions directly, I believe.

        Cheers RS - Off to look now :)

    One aspect greatly overlooked is the fact that the NBN brings a Layer 2 FTTH pipe. This means it's not only Internet, but Phone, TV, Interactive TV, VoD, Pay TV, Radio, and much much more. There is sooo much bandwidth available in a strand of glass that compared to Copper, it puts that stuff to shame.

    What you will find in future is Telstra selling bundled packages of Internet, Phone and PayTV all over the same fibre. Something that can't be done adequately over a single copper pair today. This means less cables on those overhead power poles.

    I‘m sick of the too many VoIP’s in the market. They claim so much and the output is duuhhh! It doesn’t work for me though! Does anyone know a quality standard VoIP that runs great on my iPhone 4S?

    Like myself, Antonia must have been around in the 1970's to 1980's to know how slow the internet was back then in pre ISP days. For the young and uneducated out there, 9600 baud is only 9.6kbps. Everybody was very impressed when the 28.8kbps modem was released and further thrilled when 56kbps was state of the art a few years later. But the key thing is all through this bandwidth consumption has always been in excess of the ability of the network to deliver these speeds reliably. Hopefully the NBN fibre network will go a long way to addressing the disparity now and well into the future.

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