Ask LH: Why Can’t Cable Internet Be Connected To My Building?

Ask LH: Why Can’t Cable Internet Be Connected To My Building?

Hi Lifehacker, We’ve just moved into our first house and I was excited to find that Optus cable internet was available. The technician came out but then said it wasn’t possible to connect us because we are the back house of the section. Have I been fobbed off or is there a legitimate issue with connecting cable through a section if it wasn’t done at the time of building? Thanks, No Longer Cable Guy

Cable hand picture from Shutterstock

Dear NLCG,

The history of cable broadband in Australia is something of a sorry tale, with Telstra and Optus overbuilding each other like crazy back in the 90s only to suddenly stop and more or less swear off upgrades for quite some time. Indeed — and I’m speaking from personal experience here — there was a period when Telstra wouldn’t take my money for a perfectly legitimate cable connection despite having had cable at a property some years prior, because the incoming FTTP NBN was going to make it obsolete within a few years.

Equally, stories of what’s promised and what’s actually delivered can vary a great deal in the Australian broadband landscape, with the fundamental rule being that you shouldn’t count on a broadband connection until the bits are actually flowing into your premises. At a guess, you’ve been classified as a multi dwelling unit style property (“the back house of the section”), and in those cases it’s not unusual for either Optus or Telstra to insist on putting a hub in to service both properties at once. As such, it may be worth checking with the front house in your section if they’d be interested in such an arrangement, as that may be more appealing to Optus.

It also somewhat depends on how you found out that Optus was “available”. If that’s a promise that Optus made to you (especially in writing) prior to moving in, you may have some more leverage to get them to shift cable to your premises. But there’s an added complication here that could lead to Optus being even more reluctant to do any further work at your premises.

Both Optus and Telstra’s cable networks are now set to become part of the “MTM” NBN model, with trials set for later this year before a full product rollout in the first quarter of 2016. The good news there is that an NBN connection should, in theory, be made available to everyone, and as such at that time you should be able to get a cable NBN connection arranged. The bad news is that it’s a strong incentive for Optus to minimise any spend on upgrading existing connections or running additional cable.

Cheers Lifehacker

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  • Optus has not connected cable to the rear dwelling of subdivided (“battleaxe”) blocks for many, many years. That’s their rule, and no amount of complaining will change that.

    Telstra may, but it depends on many factors. Sometimes civil works will be needed, usually at the customer’s expense. Can’t hurt to ask.

    • When I was living in London it was so much simpler. My first rented place never had any connections put in, so they just tracked a massive long cable up to the 5th floor via the stairs for everyone. BAM! Cable. Problem solved. Didn’t have to pay a cent either haha.

  • Telstra have apparently also stopped connecting cable in units, irrespective of whether or not a cable outlet is present. As an ex-Telstra employee I know where a wallplate is in a property, you literally only need to log in to a system (Wizard) and go through a few screens to activate it.

    I enquired about moving my cable from my existing apartment to a potential new one and was given an emphatic no, despite the presence of a Telstra cable wallplate in the property.

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