Ask LH: Will The NBN Work In My Street Ever Be Completed?

Ask LH: Will The NBN Work In My Street Ever Be Completed?

Hey Lifehacker, Three weeks ago NBN cables were laid in our street. With the Coalition election win, does it mean our homes will never be connected to the NBN? Does all NBN work cease as of now, or in suburbs where work has already commenced will it be allowed to proceed to completion? Thanks, Connection Seeker

Dear Connection Seeker,

First point: the Coalition has not said it doesn’t want the National Broadband Network (NBN). It hasn’t even said it doesn’t want the NBN to be run and built by a government organisation. Its plan for broadband, announced in April this year, favours fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) and aims to prioritise investment in areas where speed is lowest, but still keeps the fundamental NBN approach in place. This is a big switch from its previous position, which was that the entire project should be canned. That’s not to understate the complexities of changing the basic network design, but it isn’t the case that everything is being switched off. Existing NBN customers won’t see any change to their service based on what we know so far.

The reality is that it’s going to take some time before it becomes clear exactly how the ‘new’ NBN approach works. One of the key elements of the Coalition plan is to conduct an audit of currently available speeds, with the aim of having areas with particularly poor speeds upgraded first. This is supposed to be completed within three months. That timetable might seem ambitious, but even if we take it on face value, it means nothing much will change in that period. The government will also need to renegotiate its access deal with Telstra, which could be a protracted process (the original negotiation with Telstra took almost a year, and Telstra’s emphasis is on maximising shareholder returns).

In the meantime, at least some work will go on. The NBN is being built by private contractors, so it can’t be stalled entirely without incurring additional expense. Another point: the Coalition plan aims to have speeds of theoretical speeds of 25Mbps available to the majority of premises by 2016. Stopping implementation altogether makes that a more difficult task to achieve.

Also worth noting: the Coalition doesn’t currently control the Senate. If it wanted to make really big changes to NBN legislation, it would need the support of Labor and the Greens, which seems unlikely. That changes in mid-2014, but even then minor party support will likely be needed. That said, right now more of the NBN implementation is reliant on contracts than on the underlying legislation.

So what does all this mean in your street right now? The government plan favours using existing infrastructure whenever possible, and if fibre has already run through your area, not taking advantage of it would seem pointless. The money has been spent.

In practical terms, the availability of the NBN to your house depends on having an NBN utility box installed. In some areas, NBN Co has been installing these as it goes; in others, it waits until customers ask for a connection. It doesn’t sound like utility boxes are being installed in your street by default.

In your position, I would be choosing an ISP (check out our Planhacker NBN guide and contacting them to ask if installation is available. If your street is indeed wired up, you’ll have NBN before you know it. If the work in your street isn’t actually complete, you’ll still get a better idea of when a service might be possible.


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  • Connection Seeker
    We had the main (Black) cable laid to our street over a month before they ran the green cable which is where your connection to your home is made. Once that Green cable was laid I contacted my current ISP, and waited a couple of weeks for install. Look in the boxes they put in the sidewalk and check for the Green cable, it’s quite small, and if it’s there you should be right to go. Patience is the key here, because they are busy, and with a bit of luck you’ll have it installed before ‘Turnbull’ screws it up…. 🙂

  • Just a quick question, once the NBN is switched on in your area do they just send someone around on a paper run to put pamphlets in your letterbox?

    • You should be getting notifications well before they hit your street, but they aren’t necessarily an indication of a quick fit out… 🙂

  • “It hasn’t even said it doesn’t want the NBN to be run and built by a government organisation”

    Actually they have said just that. They would very much like to cancel the entire nbn, and believe wireless services are the future and that ISPs successfully regulate themselves. Problem is they can’t as the contracts are already signed.

    That’s why it’s a bad policy. Fundamentally they aren’t looking at it from the point of view of “what’s best for.australia” but rather “how can we do the bare minimum and spend the least money while still looking like we care”. Funnily enough it’s the same way they view climate policy.

    • Problem is, while Labor NBN was clearly the superior approach technically speaking, it was also ridiculously expensive. I don’t think FTTN is the most ideal alternative, I do think they could have found a way to do FTTP for cheaper than what Labor were doing it for.

      But one of the main issues is, Labor were spending billions on this NBN construction that we don’t actually have, pushing us further and further into debt. While FTTN is inferior technology and will need to be upgraded in 10-15 or so years, I’m assuming the plan at least is by then we’ll have the money to spend on it (and if you look at the history, one thing Liberal is good at is saving money and getting us back into surplus).

      Am I disappointed I likely won’t get the FTTP NBN? Well, yeah, of course I am. I’m just trying to look at it from both sides, and trying to think along the lines that there are better things that we could be spending money on right now than super duper ultra fast internet, such as hospitals, roads, public transport and schools.

      • The way that the money for the NBN scheme was being issue (IE, bonds) means that they literally and legally cannot use it for other infrastructure or services.

        The money was borrowed against future income of the service, so by spending less on the NBN now you.. can’t spend more on anything else.

        • thats interesting

          why hasnt the media picked up on this

          doesnt it mean that they will have to backstep on their policy

          • Because that would mean admitting that cutting NBN doesn’t mean money for other services. Labor has been open and honest about the bonds since day 1 of the NBN plan, and they never get the mention.

      • WhitePointer, to posit, is the largest component of expenditure required to rollout either the FTTN or FTTP solution be the costs involved in paying contractors? The labour cost component is only likely to increase and increase more than the costs of hardware decrease over the next several years. A “do-over” of converting FTTN to FTTP means a significant re-investment in labour.

        With the above in mind, which solution makes sense now or in ~10 – 20 years time?

      • But one of the main issues is, Labor were spending billions on this NBN construction that we don’t actually have, pushing us further and further into debt.

        3 years of explanations and this tripe is still spouted out. 7% profit. Money into NBN’s & governments coffers instead of Telstra’s as the internet fees pay off the everything including a 7% PROFIT.

        You know, once Telstra take this over, as Malcolm is likrly to do, they prefer in the realms of 25%+ profits or “it’s not viable”.

        Well congratulations, you and the other bogans have won.

      • if you look at the history, one thing Liberal is good at is saving money and getting us back into surplus

        Unfortunately not. What the Liberals have ALWAYS done is sell the states assets.

        Australia Post could be snapped up by
        ABC could be snapped up by Murdoch
        SBS would be prime pickings for Al Jazaara
        Customs and Border Security can be bought by Toll Ipec
        Interstate Rail would be great picked up by the French Metro

      • The Liberals get us into surplus by selling off our country. Our current national debt and place in the global economy isn’t as bad as is made out to be. If you’re borrowing money to invest in your future and stimulate the economy, then it is good debt.

  • “This is a big switch from its previous position, which was that the entire project should be canned”

    Canning the entire project would be preferable to the rubbish that we’re going to be left with. Personally this is excellent for me…businesses will start ordering fibre services from Telcos again instead of sitting around waiting for the NBN and I’ll be getting bonuses. From the perspective of society, however, this is such a waste of an opportunity.

    As it stands, we just have to accept that we’re going to be getting increasingly poor internet as time goes by, rather than better, as copper degrades and wireless spectrum becomes more and more crowded _and_ we get to pay billions for the privilege of what we already more or less have. Excellent.

    • Canning the entire project would be preferable to the rubbish that we’re going to be left with. “
      Not really, if the nbn stays government owned then there is hope in the future it will be fixed. If it is sold off as is then we’ll be relying on private companies again

      • It won’t be fixed because:

        1) It will fall into the too hard basket.
        2) It will not be on the agenda. People will have slightly better internet and more crap about stopping the boats or equivalent will be trotted out to distract the public.

        Leaving it in the state it’s in is the worst possible outcome. As it is, it’ll lurch around like a confused godzilla for ten years or so just confusing everything and making very tangible little improvement. Eventually things will be so messed up that we’ll just give up on ever having a holistic solution.

        • If labor get in 3 years from now then there is a chance it can be fixed if it stays gov owned. It will be more expensive but it could be fixed

  • My are was due to start, according the roll out map, construction will commence from September 2013.
    But in the 6 days before the election it didn’t change and I didn’t see any flyers in mailboxes or anything.
    But from what I have heard some areas where it was ‘due to start’ may already have contracts so I am just hoping thats the case.
    My area varies in that on my side of the estate has very slow internet,
    I think ADSL, where as my friend who lives on the opposite side has Telstra cable installed last year and gets 25mbps. I haven’t heard a word from Telstra about cable either, even though I am a 3 minute walk away.
    So I was really counting on the NBN. Just my luck that the install dates clashed with the election.

  • Fibre being laid in the street doesn’t mean your connection is “around the corner”. It might still be months before the service is live.

  • So how is the roll-out supposed to work? iiNet have started putting billboard ads for their NBN plans in my area, and the rollout map says that construction in my street started in January, but the ISP check on the NBN website says that it’s not available in my area. How long does construction take (the area of my street that’s under construction is about 200m according to the website) and will it be completed, including the hook-up to my house? And will the let us tenants know or just the landlord?

  • under the old NBN, we were having to wait until 2015 to be connected.. Our suburb (Preston) has rotting copper so 90% of our streets are on Optus cable… So now I reckon we’ll be waiting at least a decade or more for an upgrade (& the cables getting slower, as housing density increases).

  • If anyone wants to discuss actual costs and the actual details about each party’s plan it’s best to read the NBN articles in the technology section of ABC News before wasting bytes with half truths here.

  • What about people in the 2yr/3yr rollout areas? I’m guessing it’s going to be a nope. All I can hope for now is that they fix whatever keeps causing the speed drops every time it rains in my area.

  • so when the node rolled out ..
    are we able to fork out extra $$ ourself for FTTH?

    if so would we still be getting the full 100mb since its going via the node this time ?
    extra fibre cable to your house from the node would be around 4k ?

  • Labor played the NBN very politically as opposed to strategically viable, in terms of where the NBN was rolled out first. For example, a quick look on the NBN site shows that construction has been scheduled to start to Alice Springs in around a year. Yet there are heavily populated areas of our capital cities that are not even on the grid to get connected for more than 3 years….

    If you want to make a faster return, then you should target the most densely populated areas first, so it can help offset the costs when expanding to the less populated areas…

  • I have started a petition to strongly urge the coalition government to reconsider their FTTN NBN proposal in favour of a superior FTTH NBN. Please show your support for this issue by signing the petition and leaving any comments/thoughts at the following link:

    Please spread the word, and refer as many of your friends and family as possible. Additionally, feel free to raise further concerns to Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull, and the coalition government by sending them an email or written letter to the addresses below.

    Tony Abbott:
    phone: (02) 6277 4022
    fax: (02) 6277 8562
    address: Parliament House
    Canberra ACT 2600

    Malcolm Turnbull:
    phone: 02 6277 4144
    fax: 02 6277 8445
    address: PO Box 6022, House of Representatives
    Parliament House, Canberra, ACT 2600

    Liberal Party Federal Secretariat:
    phone: 02 6273 2564
    fax: 02 6273 1534
    email: [email protected]
    address: PO Box 6004,
    Kingston ACT 2604

    Thank you for your support!

    • great initiative ! you left out liberal overlord Rupert Murdoch’s contact details… otherwise you will be communicating to a brick wall .. jokes

  • I feel like IF the FTTP that was being installed in my suburb is completed and connected I’ll never be able to bloody move house again. Otherwise I’ll end up somewhere like the last rental I was in. 1.8mbps ADSL2+

  • I live in an area where the fastest service is ADSL1. To me it seems perfectly reasonable to focus on areas with slow connections with a FTTN approach. If people wish to have FTTH they should be able to opt in. As it stands the ALPs plan has been excruciating slow to roll out, extremely unfair in its allocation, and due to its over the top approach likely to be drastically altered by an opposition who has come into power displaying very little understanding of the technology and an aversion to over invest.
    I would love to see a debate on this where party allegiances are left at the door and people recognise the most expensive option may be great for speed but could be a little ambitious financially.

  • As a person living in alice springs, who would benefit a lot more out of the nbn then someone in the city who has access to services, I ask you to rethink the idea that they chose alice springs for political reasons. Also doesn’t make sense, if they wanted the most voters, they would put it in the high pop areas….

  • Dear Connection Seeker, the Coalition have already stated on several occasions that they would honour all NBN contracts currently under construction, so if they’ve run fibre down your street and your address is in an orange zone on the NBN rollout map, you’ll be getting FttP. That also means that your property has added value relative to properties that will be serviced with FttN. One hopes that the medium-to-long term benefits of fibre broadband delivery in regional and remote areas enter into the Coalitions assessments of the broadband delivery model they adopt to drive economic and community development into the future across this great nation of ours. Minimal reliance on power for broadband delivery is the aim of the game.
    I’d also add that the current NBN rollout has endeavoured to deliver all satellite and fixed-wireless broadband services by the end of 2015, targeting areas that have very poor or no broadband access first.

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