One Third Of Australians Don’t Care About The NBN

One Third Of Australians Don’t Care About The NBN

The rollout of the National Broadband Network continues, with nbn Australia patting itself on the back recently having hit the target of having a third of the country ready, with quarterly revenues hitting $181 million. That’s worth celebrating, no?

Turns out a large quantity of Australians are largely blasé about the whole deal. Research from found that of the Australians who don’t currently have a connection, 31 per cent aren’t fussed about getting one. Thirteen per cent haven’t even bothered to check and 7 per cent don’t even know how to check when the NBN might be coming to their homes.

While the rollout is national, Victorians are the most likely to have not bothered to connect up even when an NBN service is available, while folks in Western Australia are the least likely to know how to check service availability or NBN future plans. While those are survey results, they dovetail nicely with nbn’s own figures that suggest that nearly two million households are NBN-ready but are yet to actually connect. Clearly, something is up with how we perceive the entire NBN project, and it’s not hard to see what it is.

It’s not so much to do with technology, or indeed our appetite for broadband. With the rise of services such as Netflix, Australians are consuming data like never before, and that’s leaving aside any and all economic benefits of fast broadband.

It’s because the NBN has, since its inception, been a massive political football with errors all around no matter which side of politics you barrack for. We’ve heard the hype over and over again, and around a third of us are either confused by it or sick of it, and quite likely both.

What’s been left is a national mess that’s been hyped, pushed, pushed back, redesigned and redeployed multiple times to the point that “NBN” could stand for any one of seven different technologies that might end up providing your broadband tomorrow, or maybe not until 2020, and that’s assuming no further wrinkles in the overall rollout schedule. History suggests that’s an optimistic view, to put it politely.

Understanding the nuances of seven different connection methodologies is fine for technology geeks like me, but for the average punter who just wants to watch the latest Netflix Marvel series without endless buffering, it’s baffling and irritating in equal measure.

Australians are keen adopters of new technology, but the promises of the NBN — both in its original fibre-for-everyone incarnation and its “everyone will have 25Mbps by 2016” redesigned version — have failed to reach their well-publicised goals to date. Even the failures have been fodder for political point scoring, and if you spend enough years telling someone that a project is a pig, eventually everything starts smelling like rancid bacon. That’s sad given the potential economic impact of fast ubiquitous broadband, but that’s undoubtedly the reason for the widespread apathy.

Naturally, some of those who don’t know or haven’t connected (even if they’re able to) might not care about internet connectivity at all, but the reality is that the NBN rollout is a replacement for your phone line as well, whether you like it or not.

There’s a grace period where NBN technologies and landlines will coexist, but if you’re not ready and prepared, you could well find yourself racing to line up somebody to manage the connections for you lest you lose even basic connectivity. For some Australians that cutoff is already occurring, and for some it won’t be for a few years, but not even knowing when it’s likely is apathy that will have very real consequences for you very soon indeed.

This article originally appeared in Digital Life, The Sydney Morning Herald’s home for everything technology. Follow Digital Life on Facebook and Twitter.


  • More accurate title : One Third Of Australians Don’t Care About The NBN Anymore As LNP Have “Screwed The Pooch”

    • That’s exactly it.
      The man on the street doesn’t care because in the current form the nbn offers them nothing more than they’re currently getting. It’s not the future-proofed world-leading infrastructure it should have been. Instead it’s a bottomless money-pit of unfit-for-purpose technology with many layers of subcontractors sucking up cash.

    • No, if it’s 31% who don’t care, I’d suggest that’s the 31% who know they won’t see it for another five years or more. If it had been Labor’s original plan, that could easily have been ten years and they’d care even less.

      At the end of the day, this is not something the government should be doing. Private enterprise had no trouble rolling out cable for cable TV and they maintain three world class, competitively cheap mobile networks without government interference/assistance.

      The NBN was created for political gain, if it were otherwise the first areas connected would have been the CBDs of Sydney and Melbourne, not marginal electorates where most citizens can’t even spell “internet”. It’s a joke from start to finish and by the time it’s available where I live, newer technologies will almost certainly have surpassed it.

      • And here we go…

        Problem is, private enterprise WASNT doing it. Closest they got was Telstra wanting to do FttN with the Government footing a big chunk of the bill. It was demonstrative of a growing habit of private enterprise dragging their feet on infrastructure, and NBN was created to call their bluff.

        If you want to put the political spin on it, go right ahead, but what Labor wanted to do was reset that playing field pretty much for everyone (apologies to the 7%), have the trunk lines consistent from exchange to house, and effectively separate Telstras wholesale and retail arms. Or at least neutralise their monopoly status.

        Basically, go back to what worked with Telecom – the wholesale arm being government controlled.

        • Until it was sold, effectively creating a Telstra mk2.

          That is something the NBN plans on both sides have in common.

          • Fair point. I’m mixed on that part myself. On one hand, with a full FttP, you have a 100% captive audience so a guaranteed income each year. If its profitable (and theres no reason it wouldnt have been) then thats just income to add to the budget.

            On the other hand, the whole plan was based around private investment, and paying that back, so if you arent selling it off after that, should profits still be shared with those investors? Arguments on both sides.

            Personally, I’m for keeping it, but arent so committed to that idea I would be disappointed with a selloff. It just needs better regulatory control that the Telstra mess if/when it happens.

          • It all comes down to how it’s regulated. The problem with Telstra is that it was privatised without much (any?) regulation. Which was arguably because it there was more regulation, then the shares wouldn’t have been half as popular / valuable, and therefore wouldn’t have been worth anywhere near as much to the politicians (who made the decision to sell it) super-funds.

            There’s also the issue of enforcing the regulations that are in place. Telstra didn’t seem to be punished much for it’s anti-competitive practises around third-party access to exchanges, for example.

            Hopefully (possibly like hoping for a non-Brexit vote or a vote for a US president that hasn’t made openly racist or misogynistic statements as part of their campaign) they won’t screw the pooch on selling the NBN the way they’ve screwed the pooch every other possible way they could.

            Pffft. You’re right @randomchance, we’re the pooch.

  • i’m surprised it’s not higher. I’m so pissed off about NBN, it’s in every street around me, except my street. seriously are they even rolling out to areas that aren’t new estates?

  • No mention of the elephant in the room? You know, those poor buggers who supposedly have an NBN connection, but are now getting lower speeds than when they were on copper.

    • Not only can the NBN be slower than BOTH ADSL and Cable Broadband, but if you move into a property that has NBN already available, you are not allowed to connect to anything else (even if ADSL/Cable is available). So basically, they’re forcing you to use a potentially slower, more expensive product.

      And that’s not even mentioning the completely woeful and frankly perplexing rollout strategy.

      • This is me exactly. Going to a slower service than I had and no option to keep what I had (cable). And it’s more expensive.
        And trying to get anyone to tell you anything was like pulling teeth. Yes you can have battery back up with VOIP/ no it won’t work with voip. Everyone you speak to tells you a different bloody story.

    • Hey, I’d take the slower speed if my FTTN was stable. Connection terminates anywhere from a few seconds to a few hours. And as it takes so long to re-sync, it’s unusable.
      ISP doesn’t want to know/won’t do anything.
      So now I’m stuck with a fast connection I can’t rely on for VoIP, data, IPTV etc. At least when it was ADSL it worked.

      • Sounds like an NBN fibre fault and you need to log this with the Ombudsman. Why pussy foot around dealing with the reseller.

  • I work in IT, and while I acknowledge that we need to upgrade our network… I don’t care about my own connection status.

    It’s coming to my area soon. I got a fine and dandy letter basically telling me “Good news! It’s coming! We’ll try not to stuff up your street appeal too much, and here’s an ombudsman contact if you’re displeased. Oh and you’ll need to get another plan.”

    So this supposedly greater speed is coming, which I won’t use anyway (for the time being at least), which may cause damage in its installation and may cost more in terms of monthly fees (I base this last point on pessimism alone).


    Apologies to anyone who’s really hanging out for it. I know this kind of post doesn’t help you. I thought I’d weigh in though, as a fairly techie person who is obviously part of the 31%.

    • Do you not care because you’ve already got a satisfactory connection, or you just don’t use the ‘net much at home? (or other…)?

      Geniunely interested in your answer.

      Not sure what issues there may be with “street appeal” or “may cause damage in its installation” – I’m sure that’s not what the brochure says or even implies. Makes you sound troll-ish.

  • We switched over this week and our speed has been a constant 23.4 mbps which is 3 times faster than adsl2+ we were receiving.

    • Work migrated over on Tuesday. Went from 6mbit to 24mbit and no issues so far. 4 times the speed and no complaints so far.

      Edit: 26.4Mbit down, 3.31Mbit up from google speedtest right now.

      Edit2: Telstra tech found a crossed pair when doing the phones. 45Mbit down 6.5Mbit up. \o/

  • Don’t care about NBN myself because I know it will be a solid 5 years until it’s available to me….

    • I was going to say something similar. Actually if it’s only a third, then it’s already more popular than it was at the time of the election when it was obviously over 50% who didn’t care*

      *Yes, it’s the only issue anyone voted on 🙂

  • I was excited about the NBN until LNP took over.

    In fact, with Labor’s NBN plan, my suburb was meant to start rolling out during 2015…now with LNP’s? It’s not even on the plans yet! So much for LNP saying they’ll roll it out in half the time or whatever they said.

    • In the same boat! Currently only getting ~2.5mb ADSL connection and that is only when the pits are dry.

  • The think I like about the NBN roll out is that it is the only time in government-speak that something is actually rolling out: the black cable, that is; it comes in giant rolls, which must be…you guessed…rolled out.

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