Ask LH: How Can I Ensure I Get The NBN In My Apartment Building?

Ask LH: How Can I Ensure I Get The NBN In My Apartment Building?

Dear Lifehacker, I’m about to go through the dreaded process of moving once again. As renters we’ve applied and been approved for a nice apartment which we’ll move into next week. When going through the process of moving the utilities, I noticed that the area is NBN-enabled according to the NBN Co website. I contacted my ISP, who told me that the NBN is not yet available at that property.

After a bit of digging, it looks as though the owners corporation haven’t elected to have the property connected. My previous experience with real estate agents is that they don’t really care about telecommunications to the property, and I don’t have the authority to contact the body corporate on my own. If I just sign up for an ADSL service, I’ll be signing a contract, which might muddy my options when it comes to switch to the NBN if it is connected at some time in the future. What’s the best approach in this situation?

Thanks Tenant Troubles

Picture: Stephan Ridgway

Dear TT,

Look on the bright side — you could easily be moving into an area where the NBN wasn’t even a choice. Given the current uncertainty, anyone with potential NBN access is lucky. Your challenge is twofold: trying to ensure the NBN is eventually connected to the building, and not being tied to an unwanted service for too long.

The second problem is actually fairly straightforward: sign up to an ADSL plan which doesn’t involve a contract. ISPs will try and persuade you to sign up for a 24-month deal, but there are options out there for no-contract deals as well. You’ll have to pay more money up-front for setup fees (and router hardware if you need it), but you’ll be in the position to switch quickly to the NBN if it does come to your building.

To make that happen, we’d suggest two things. Firstly, ask the estate agent what the situation is, and ask them to pass on your feedback that you’d be keen to see the NBN available. While it’s true that you might encounter indifference, it’s still a sensible step.

Secondly, become friendly with your neighbours. Some of them are likely to be owners, not renters, which means they can directly influence body corporate decisions. They might not even be aware that the NBN is available to the building. If you can explain the benefits to them, they’ll become an advocate for the cause.

We’d love to hear from readers who have been in similar situations with any additional advice. Good luck!

Cheers Lifehacker

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  • The biggest issue for NBN in Apartment buildings right now is how to deal with “Multi-Story Dwellings”, or more accurately how to get NBN to those apartments on levels higher than ground floor.
    This issue doesn’t only effect apartment buildings. Here in Hobart (One of the first suburbs/cities to receive NBN) there are a large number of businesses in the CBD where the Fiber line runs right along the street outside, but because they are above ground floor they’ve been forgotten about and it doesn’t look like there is a viable solution any time soon. That said, bigger issues have been solved before.

  • Funnily enough I was just in the exact same predicament a few weeks ago!
    Moved into new unit, area serviced by the NBN but my Building doesn’t have fibre infrastructure yet.

    So just signed up to a month-to-month contract with Telstra *sigh*.
    Bit more expensive than a contract, but just had to bite the bullet.

    Did contact my property manager though and she had informed that she has signed off to get the fibre routed
    Now it’s just waiting for NBNCo to get contractors out to get it done!

  • Does it cost anything to be installed in situations like this? If not, why would you not do it – increase desirability and drive up rent for the owners.

    • I would imagine that it still has to go through the Body Corp first. Anything placed on the outside of build will need to go through them first

  • Is it too late to pull out? Perhaps you should consider that and move into an already connected apartment.. Your building will most likely never get connected if it is more than 10 units or complicated… If it does ever come it will probably be time for you to move again…. I do ADSL2+ plans with no contract, you can then move to one of my NBN plans..

  • I’m really wanting to change ISP’s, but in the same situation. Stuck until NBN is connected to my building. It is happening, they came and took 430 pictures of my building, but god knows when…

    Not signing a contract for ADSL ever again, and not paying exorbitant joining fee’s to change either, might as well stay put financially.

  • I work at iiNet and I’ve run into quite a few people who give us a call saying they’ve been told NBN is available in the area but can’t connect yet because of this exact issue.

    The solution is pretty simple. Once NBNco infrastructure is in place in the area (purple zone on the rollout map) the landlord or body corporate (depending on how the MDU is owned – MDU is telco parlance for blocks of flats and apartment buildings which have an MDF their phone lines are connected through) needs to contact NBNco and arrange for NBNco to come out and install fiber equipment (NTDs and cabling) in ALL of the units (the entire MDU) over a relatively short time-frame.

    Because MDUs are private property and no two MDUs are alike in how they need to be connected to the NBN, NBNco needs this dialogue with the landowner to be able to provide a service to these houses. If the area’s gone purple on the rollout map, NBNco are ready (or almost ready) to install the fiber into these MDUs – they just need to liase with landowners or body corporates to get it done. Given time, NBNco WILL contact bodycorps and such on their own – but it’s definitely a lot quicker and easier if the contact opens the other way.

  • Better look for a provider who can offer you ADSL first while waiting for the NBN. Most providers offer free switch over once NBN service is ready available in your location. This should not cancel any contract or termination fee must be waived.

  • The only way to *ensure* access to NBN fibre is to move into a fully detached house in a street that has NBN fibre. Anything else is a gamble.

  • I’d be asking the ISPs if it’s possible to change from ADSL to NBN while under contract. I’d imagine most would be fine with it, as it’ll likely be a pretty common thing for new NBN installations.

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