Hey Lifehacker, I just moved house to an area which has no ports left in the nearest exchange, and there's a lengthy queue of people to sign up. I have spoken to multiple ISPs and they all say the same thing. I have looked into other methods of getting internet (4G, satellite and cable) but they're either unavailable or way too expensive. Are there any alternatives which won't break my bank? Thanks, Bereft of Broadband
Cable hand picture from Shutterstock
Welcome to Australia in 2014. Your experience neatly sums up why the idea that our existing copper network is adequate to serve the nation is, frankly, delusional. Tools such as MyBroadband look at whether a service might be available near where you live; not whether you can actually sign up. As many Australians living in populous capital city areas have learned, often there's no choice.
Why are we stuck in this position? Largely because when Telstra was privatised, there wasn't any structural separation between its wholesale and commercial arms. That meant that even if rival ISPs wanted to set up their own DSLAMs in Telstra-controlled exchanges, they were frequently told there was no room. In effect, there's no competition and no ability to add new services.
Once the National Broadband Network (NBN) became a prospect, few ISPs wanted to invest in new exchange equipment anyway. Now that the NBN's future is far from certain and has no timeline, there might be an incentive to upgrade exchanges — but there still won't be room in many cases.
Unfortunately, we have no words of solace to offer you. Using mobile broadband is possible but extremely expensive. Cable connectivity is a lottery based on your address, and satellites are overcrowded and pricey. There's no easy way out, other than moving (and hoping you're not screwed in exactly the same way again).
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