Half The People Who Can Get The NBN Haven’t Done So, And We Judge Them

Half The People Who Can Get The NBN Haven’t Done So, And We Judge Them

I suspect most Lifehacker readers would race to connect to the National Broadband Network (NBN) if they had the option. Turns out the general public is a little bit slower getting on board.

NBN Co, which is building the network, announced in its half-yearly results today that there were 748,552 premises which could now connect to the NBN as of the end of December 2014. Of those, 322,391 have done so, which is just 43 per cent of the serviceable premises. (That number is up 53 per cent on the previous year.)

The chances are good that many of those customers won’t migrate until the associated copper network is switched off. While NBN Co is now committed to a multi-technology mix which will see many people accessing broadband via copper to the nearest broadband node and others use pay TV cable, sites rolled out to date have still involved fibre to the premises.

One thing we didn’t learn? Any more about when cable options might be available. CEO Bill Morrow said that while the deals signed with Telstra and Optus did mean that planning had been able to begin, not all the contract requirements had yet been finalised. “We will hopefully do that in the near term,” he said.

For those of you watching the money, so far the government has invested $10.4 billion in NBN Co equity. The figure is supposed to be capped at $29.5 billion. By 2020, NBN Co is aiming to have connected 8 million premises. We hope that happens, but if there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s that large projects are easy to mess up.


  • It isn’t that they cannot be bothered connecting – most of them are still waiting for NBNCo technicians to keep their appointments and many potential customers are going through it for the third or fourth time having had NBNCo cancel appointments or, more often, simply not turn up.

  • That is actually a much higher uptake than I expected.
    I’m still dirty as the NBN trucks were in my town before the election, then packed up and went home after it, and I am now likely never to get fibre here.
    It is frustrating that my clients in Poland, the US, Bratislava and the Czech Republic all have 30MBit or better upload speeds, and I am stuck on <1Mbit upload (and I pay more for the priviledge). It is actually faster for me to courier hard drives to Poland than to upload the files, which is pathetic.

    • its very frustrating that the gov keeps pushing the nbn in FTTN mode as worthy on a global scale when i reality is laughable, aussie tech companies already struggle to compete globally as it is!

      • It really is, the slow upload speeds make content creation an area where it is nearly impossible to compete.
        We restore 35mm feature films, and uploading multiple TB of data is just impossible, and our overseas clients just can’t believe that we would be limited to 1MBit or less for uploads, they literally can’t fathom it.
        With businesses moving their data to the cloud, and people wanting to backup to cloud storage, how is taking 31 hours to upload a file that the guys in Poland can upload in 45 mins going to keep us competitive.

        • Sounds like there’s a market for having PCs in another country – to take advantage of the upload speeds – then working from these PCs via remote access. Yes, there’s a ton of privacy issues to overcome. But if you had a presence in that country this would be a valid approach.

          • It is difficult as we work with higher than 4K, deep colour images, and repair images at the sub-pixel level, image fidelity is everything, so remote doesn’t work so well for most of our particular work.

          • I think the point is, the raw video is likely even larger than the processing and the eventual product that gets uploaded.
            If it were that simple, I’m sure he’d just spin up VM’s on amazon ec2 or azure and operate as a citizen of the internet instead of bound to Australia. I suspect he doesnt have the luxury of that due to the nature of his customer’s and what and how they bring to him. Shipping a drive internationally is both probably cheaper and faster. It is ludicrous but also reality.

        • You can get business accounts with Telstra and the such and get much higher connections.
          We have a 20/20 connection and a 10/10 in my office. It is possible but it does cost.

        • It’s pretty crazy when you hit a situation where it’d be faster to fly your entire operation to another country, do the job, then fly it all back. It’s not because of some dramatic and unpredictable growth.

          It bugs me that people complain about the cost of the NBN when the reality is that the money doesn’t go up in smoke. Your business pays taxes, probably quite a lot, and it creates jobs. It brings money into the country from across the globe. Without a proper network the business is probably going to suffer financially. The missed opportunities that can be chalked up to a lousy network cost us more than either of the NBN plans over a very short stretch of time.
          I look at the shipping yards near my warehouse and think ‘when they built this place, if they did it with the NBN mindset, it would have been one tenth the size and completely unable to handle the modern workload’.

        • The only solution I can offer is setting up a TPG 100/100 business fibre connection for $300 a month…..unfortunately these are limited to CBDs. I set this up for my business and it works a treat.

        • Never underestimate the bandwidth of a truck full of hard drives. If you’re uploading multiple TB, shipping drives is probably the way to go anyway.

    • blame Malcolm Turnbull for this mess, he is the Minister and if he had any muster he would have fought for a better roll-out than what is happening now…

      • Taking time out for surgically implanting a spine would distract from his key plans in supplanting Our Glorious Leader. (Apparently everybody voted for Abbott, not for the Libs. Who knew?)

        Remember this is the guy who commissioned an “independent”, “technology agnostic” review which (a) completely ignored the importance of upload speeds and (b) decided that their target was a bandwidth average in 2025 more or less identical to what we already have today.

        Because, y’know, nobody uses fast Internet for anything other than downloading pirated HD movies. Did you miss that memo?

      • Unfortunately, Turnbull is a member of a political party that still thinks the telephone is new and novel. They are anti-technology, anti-science and anti-progress. We are reaping the effects and years of negative politics, where the only response to progress is to stop it.

        It’s hard for someone like Turnbull to soar like an eagle when he is dragged down by turkeys like Abbott and Brandis. (Can anyone define metadata, please?)

        • sorry but Turnbull is full of crap, he acts selfishly – for his own gain and purposes. He deliberately undermines his party and the PM…

          He honestly has to be the worst performing Minister in the Government .

          edit: he does this as he wants to be PM, but this is no way of going about it, He will end up being just another Rudd or Gillard and be seen as the backstabber

      • For all Turnball’s cred associated with technology- he was involved in running the business of OzEmail. I do not see him as a technologist. OzEmail even as a business wasnt amazing.
        So he’s really 0 for 2 in my book. I shudder when I hear that he is referenced as an expert. Compared to Tony, sure, compared to actual telco and software people- not a chance in hell.

    • Given that you obviously have a business need for the NBN, have you looked into the net cost of paying the NBN to roll fibre to you directly, or even moving house to a different part of town?

      Or do you just expect (and demand) the government give it to you for free?

      Also factor in the savings on postage (and replacing external hard drives that go missing or fail) into your calculations.

  • half the people that could be connected to the nbn probably dont know it, have seen all the bullshit politics about it and have thrown it in the too hard basket, got pushed on the big 2s prices and laughed or are months into a year and half installation process

  • How much impact do early termination fees on locked-in contracts have on people migrating? Is that accounted for in the figures?

    • Switching ISPs is the answer to that.

      My ISP will only charge me $30 more than I’m paying now for 100mbit (vs ADSL) and I am more than happy to pay that.

      Pity I won’t see the NBN roll down my street for another decade.

    • ^ this.

      How do we know people living in those areas aren’t on contracts with their existing service providers. I assume we don’t have statistics on how long the NBN has been available in certain areas but I imagine you would get significant upticks around 12 months, 24 months marks as peoples’ contracts come up for renewal… up to the point where the copper is decommissioned and people are forced to move, when it automatically becomes 100% anyway.

      • NBN isnt a service provider, they’re a wholesaler to service providers. All the customer needs to do is resign with their current provider for an NBN plan.

        • Unfortunately, while my current ISP is cheap, they will charge me a $300 contract cancellation fee to switch from ADSL to NBN, which is being installed around here right now. This is made more painful because I only moved here about 3 months ago for a new job, and I already had to pay $300 to Telstra for them to plug something into a patch panel at the exchange.

          At the moment, I get 11mbps down, and since I’m living alone these days, that does the job. Not sure I can justify shelling out again.

  • iiNet
    ADSL2+ Home2 + HomePhone = $79.90/Month for 300GB at up to 24/1 (in practice we get about 17-18).
    NBN Fibre 2 + FibrePhone (we have multiple hardwired phones, fax, and monitored alarm system around the house) = $94.85 for 250GB at 25/5.
    We don’t need the extra speed (either direction). Why move across when it will just mean we pay more for essentially the same as we have on ADSL2+ now.
    So really, are they all slow, or have they just decided it’s not worth it until it’s necessary?

  • Here’s an iiNet comparison
    ADSL2+ Home2 + HomePhone = $79.90/Month for 300GB at up to 24/1 (in practice we get about 17-18).
    NBN Fibre 2 + FibrePhone (we have multiple hardwired phones, fax, and monitored alarm system around the house) = $94.85 for 250GB at 25/5.
    We don’t need the extra speed (either direction). Why move across when it will just mean we pay more for essentially the same as we have on ADSL2+ now.
    So really, are they all slow, or have they just decided it’s not worth it until it’s necessary?

  • You’ve also got plans that are still terrible. If you want to top speed, you’re paying $90-$100 for a 200gb limit. Why would people want to pay that when you can get double or triple that on the current cable/ADSL infrastructure? It’s not a cost effective medium for the average consumer.

  • Well maybe than rolling it out in outback towns that don’t really have an urgent need for upgraded internet… Maybe roll it out in CBD’s and suburban areas and watch the intake skyrocket.

  • Most of the so-called “connected” homes around my area, are forced to use the wireless version of the NBN, because there is no actual “wired” connections available. I say “wired”, because with this new system Turnbull has forced on us, you have to connect your crappy copper connection to the hub. Speaking of which, Why the hell aren’t they being connected as soon as the Hub is in place? Would have thought that would be mandatory!

  • In my area we’re not even on the “planned” list yet. Other side of the railway line (about 50m away) they have full NBN. Fortunately I knew better than to get excited when an ISP targeted our street with marketing for NBN internet plans.

  • Is it possible that cost and data allowances are stopping a lot of people?
    I haven’t seen any prices for a while, but last time I looked I wasn’t impressed.

    • The prices are still ridiculous.
      It reminds me of when I got 10M Cable internet from Telstra back in 1997. I had 200MB for the month. Just doing basic browsing and internet gameplay and I blew past it within a day. Every meg after that was 26 cents. I literally used dial up, and switched to broadband for specific things.
      If you’re going to provide a extraordinarily large pipe, there either needs to be no data limit, or a extraordinarily large one.

    • TPG Unlimited ADSL2+ $59.99 upto 20Mbps (3-5 in my experience)
      TPG Unlimited NBN $59.99 upto 12Mbps
      TPG Unlimited NBN $89.99 upto 100Mbps
      Optus cable or ADSL2+ $100
      Optus NBN $100

      It has become more competitive, but if your ADSL is sufficient speed for your needs then some might not bother.

  • I keep getting junk mail from Optus telling me I can get the NBN and to connect. Only thing is the NBN is down a court that, is directly across the street from my house, and over a fence line away from me.

  • I have the NBN Box on the outside of my house but the town is still in the BUILD state. GRRRRR.
    Am ready to switch as soon as available

  • I am one of those who hasn’t gone to NBN yet. Here is why … my current 200GB/month mynetfone ADSL costs 50$, for the same price i get 10GB !! ADSL speed is 12/1 MB and NBN for 10/2. The max i ca get for 50 $/Month in NBN is 100GB on 10/2 tire. There is no way I am going to change to NBN unless they disconnect me.

  • Well I don’t know about the rest of the county but in my region they’ve rolled the NBN out to the lower socioeconomic areas first. Houses/units that likely don’t have ADSL connected in the first place and can’t afford the NBN anyway. So those numbers aren’t surprising at all.

  • Liberal Government should have never sold the telecommunications infrastructure to private business. (Which they did in 1997, 1999 and 2006)

  • I live in Bacchus Marsh, Victoria. FTTP was rolled out across the town (mostly finished I think?). Everyone I know who was into computers and online work jumped on the service, especially those in the newer areas who were previously in RIM port hell.

    I found our NBN plan with iinet ($65/m for 25/5 Mbps and 100/100GB) is much better than our old service. Not only is the speed about double our old ADSL speed but the cost is $15 less a month than our old phone/adsl plan (we couldn’t get naked adsl here). It’s also nice to know higher speeds will be available in the future when we need them.

    So it’s all good here. Hope the remaining rollout isn’t too compromised and people can at least get some of the benefits of a FTTP connection.

  • Perhaps another reason why there has been a ‘low’ uptake for NBN is because they’re installing it in the wrong locations first? Where I live, there’s a high density of households, yet NBN is being installed in smaller communities. Whoever made that decision should be removed. Idiots!

    • They’re installing it in smaller and socioeconomically depressed areas first, because those communities are the ‘guinea pigs’ and there’s fewer votes for the Coalition to lose if it all goes pear-shaped. Which it has.
      Be grateful for what you have, if you have a working connection to the copper network. I haven’t had a landline or broadband for over six months because of NBN Co, and there’s no immediate prospect that the situation will improve.

  • Probably because with all the time and effort it takes to get contractors to come and install boxes etc. at your house it’s not even worth the hassle. I certainly don’t ever want to go through that again.

    I wonder if NBN CO has taken into account that although they have laid the primary NBN lines down our streets, the ISPs still aren’t allowing signups or they delay, and then delay more, and delay again until the customer stops inquiring.
    I know plenty of people in NBN suburbs who can’t connect to the NBN but they also can’t connect to the existing Copper… the answer from the telco/ISP??? “We can provide a wireless hotspot for a discounted price!”
    Even outside of my house on the power pole is the NBN fiber line with a breakout box, but when looking at the NBN roll-out maps, it supposedly isn’t available on my side of the street.
    I look at the box EVERY day in hope that I can one day connect to it… but I’ve lost hope in inquiring about it.

    • Similar situation, my neighbour has NBN, theres a box opposite my driveway, but for whatever reason no NBN for me.
      LUCKILY i’m one of the few people in the area NOT on the over populated RIM in the area, so i get 15mbps down 😀 which really really annoyed a friend of mine who was over the moon with his 12/1 fibre connection… untill i showed him my speed test 😀

  • according to the government I already have NBN because we have Telstra cable in the area…. they better not be including that heap of junk.

    I want FIBER dammit!

  • Ah NBN. It’d be nice to have. Unfortuantely I’m one of the people with the first world problem of being able to only get ADSL1. I am literally 50m over the maximum recommended range of attenuation for ADSL2+. It sucks.

  • It took 7 months from ordering my NBN connection to NBNCo finishing the install.

    In those 7 months, only 2 site visits were performed.

    My experience strongly suggests it is more a case of people wanting to sign up but not NBNCo are unable to sign new premises on.

    There were also significant roll-out issues/network shortfalls that had my region listed as ‘ready for service’ but not actually serviceable. I suspect NBNCo’s metrics use these false politicised aspirational values in their calculations e.g. ‘our systems say we’ve passed 250000 premises’ where as the engineers and roll-out teams might suggest only 150000 are RFS.

  • I’m certainly judging the 57% of people who haven’t connected to available NBN. I’m judging away. It makes Australians look like meatheads. Oh, wait….

  • I live in one of the NBN roll-out zones in Northern NSW, and I can tell you from personal experience that there is a low uptake because the NBN Co. have proven totally incompetent.
    I moved to the area for work from interstate, so I didn’t have a pre-existing connection to the copper network. Most telco customers in my area are still on copper; nevertheless, it’s been declared ‘obsolete’, so when you sign a contract with any of the telcos that service this region, you must accept a FTTN connection.
    I’ve waited _over six months_ for a landline and broadband. Four appointments where the installers didn’t even turn up; and another where two installers turned up, in two separate vans, to do one job (install the NTD), which they didn’t do. As one of the installers shamefacedly explained, someone hadn’t completed the paperwork authorising the install. That “someone” was at NBN Co., because Optus did everything they could at their end.
    After a lot of discussion with other people living with the area, I’ve come to the conclusion that what I’ve experienced is just _minor_ incompetence on the part of NBN Co. Some of what their installers have done to people’s homes amounts to criminal damage.
    Salt in the wound: the few people I know who do have a working FTTN connection say it performs no better than their old ADSL service.
    Word gets around. By this point, I expect anyone in my area still on copper would be loathe to part with it.

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