6 Million Australians Are About To Get A Rude Shock When They Find Out The NBN Is Compulsory

6 Million Australians Are About To Get A Rude Shock When They Find Out The NBN Is Compulsory

A survey has found more than one in three Australians have no plans to switch to the NBN or don’t actually know what it is, apparently unaware that once the new network arrives their existing telephone and internet connections will be switched off.

Over the past month, NBN Co has been running television advertisements to remind Australians to switch to the new broadband network — and the latest survey results from comparison site Finder.com.au seem to justify the expense of the public awareness campaign.

When asked how fast they plan to connect to the NBN once it becomes available for their home, 17 per cent of 2004 people said they would not make the switch at all. A further 18 per cent didn’t know what they would do or didn’t understand what the NBN was about.

Even among those that planned to switch, 2 per cent said they planned to switch between 18 and 24 months after it arrived in their area, which would also leave those people in the dark as telcos are obliged to deactivate existing copper lines within 18 months of NBN availability.

The total of 37 per cent that would be left in the dark, according to Finder.com.au, is equivalent to 6.6 million Australians. Finder tech spokesperson Alex Kidman expressed surprise that so many people still think the NBN is optional.

“By 2020, every household in Australia will have to switch to the NBN — there’s simply no way around it,” he said.

Finder.com.au survey results

The NBN, as the new universal communications infrastructure network, completely replaces the existing copper network that landline telephones and many home broadband connections rely on. The organisation stated a goal in January that 5.4 million premises, equivalent to just under 50% coverage, would have the NBN available by the midpoint of this year. It’s aiming for 9 million by June 2018, while the government has imposed an ultimate deadline of end of 2020 for all 11.9 million premises.

Among those that do want to connect to the NBN, the majority wanted to switch over as quickly as possible to take advantage of the theoretically faster speeds. An aggregate of 44 per cent survey respondents wanted the NBN within one month of availability in their area.

“What’s interesting is that there doesn’t seem to be much of a middle ground among Australians. There are those who absolutely cannot wait for it to arrive, and then close to two fifths haven’t got a clue,” said Kidman.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, generation Y was the keenest demographic, with 51 per cent hoping to hop onto the NBN within a month. Baby Boomers were also enthusiastic, with 43% wanting to get on within the month, while 40 per cent of Generation X survey respondents wanted to do the same.

While faster internet speeds are a major attraction to switch to the NBN, a series of reports in The Australian highlight how some Australians are receiving very poor speeds compared to what retailers are promising. The method of technology to connect to each household also remains a contentious issue, with NBN Co continually having to defend itself for rolling out slower fibre-to-the-node technology to some areas while other locations get faster fibre-to-the-kerb, hybrid fibre coaxial or even wireless.

This story has been updated since its original publication.


  • The sheer number of clients I have seen in the local area, many of them elderly, who have absolutely no idea about all these changes is staggering. Almost none of them care about the internet, they use it to email the family once or twice a week, and they use their home phone for everything else. They are shocked and outraged to learn that they are going to have to get all new services, potentially with contracts, just to keep what they already have. Some areas here in the NSW southern highlands have already had their old networks disconnected, so I have been setting up a LOT of 4G dongles lately. Too bad about their home phone disappearing though! All in all, its been a shocking roll-out. Our shop has been without fixed line service for nearly 3 months while NBNCO gets their shite together!

    • Whilst I agree that NBN Co is doing an average job and has some very dubious business practices as someone that deals with changing business customers to the NBN on a daily basis, I have to say the customers are their own worst enemy in most circumstances. I try to take my time explain what’s happening, thoroughly investigate what services they have at their businesses and educate them on how to make the transition as smooth as possible. Most I speak with don’t listen, are rude to deal with and don’t do what they’re suppose to and then complain when it doesn’t go well. The ones that listen and get in early mostly have no issues. I just laugh now at the high percentage of business customers that have lost phone numbers after the old network has been cut off as it’s 99% of the time their own fault.

      • And what do you say to the people have have been cut off after trying to do the right thing and switch over? I’ve been without internet for 5 weeks now because the NBN refuses to investigate the issue and keeps pushing the PRD back. It’s now blown out to August.

        I’m physically connected, with green lights everywhere and a perfectly fine connection but due to an order screw up in the NBN backend system, I can’t be activated.

        It’s likely a 10min fix if someone can be bothered, but it’s a nightmare trying to get the NBN to do any work and the ISP’s keep getting told the same stuff over an over without any progress.

        It’s been a mess of a rollout and you can’t blame the customers for getting angry when they are forced to do something and it causes many problems.

        • From my vast experience you are the other 1% . I agree totally with what you’re saying except I’m copping attitude on a daily basis from business owners that haven’t even experienced any issues. As with anything it’s easy to read articles and assume it’s all the corporations fault but whenever you work on the other side of the curtain you know there’s 2 sides to it. Whilst I have had a few customers in situations like yours and yes NBN Co is a nightmare to deal with but by far most of the issues we see could have been easily prevented if the business customer had listened to the consultant and followed basic instructions.

          I’ve had customers blowing up and threatening TIO and legal action over things like monitored alarms not working or wired eftpos terminals. They change their tune when we provide voice recordings and emails instructing them of VERY simple solutions they needed to organise in the 3-6 months lead time I give them before migrating from copper. But they don’t listen, talk to you like your a piece of scum and then cry bloody murder when they miss something.

          Or my favourite. You never told me I’d lose my landline if I didn’t change in 18 months! Yeah we did. 6 phone calls where we spoke to you, numerous letters, someone physically door knocking and explaining it face to face and a recorded message every time they make an outbound call. I have to laugh.

          I’ve never dealt with consumers so this is just my experience from the other side.

    • Exactly. So many people have no idea what it is or even care about it. But hey, let’s give them NBN before we give the thousands of families who have no ADSL and rely on 10Mbps/1Mbps Fixed Wireless. The people with the worst internet should be first.

  • So my problem with this is, what if our street doesn’t get connected by 2020 by whatever negligence? Am I to then fork out loads more money for Satellite? I mean what’s the deal?
    We have been put on the list, taken off the list, put back on again, taken off again. The exchange in our area already has it, but it’s only connected to businesses in the town nearby.
    As far as I know cables were put in the ground too. So what gives?

  • No wonder people are confused, even this article is confusing, isn’t some of the copper still staying as a lot of premises get Fibre to node not directly to the premises? Is anything really changing for a lot of people in terms of anything they’d be aware of other than, ok switch plans, they look like the old plans but in addition have some more expensive options that aren’t well understood or explained, but look here’s some cheap plans that no one should be offering because they are ridiculous MAXIMUM speeds that will be lower than what is generally advertised for ADSL (i.e. NBN 12, the NBN website suggests these are useless, but I doubt any of the retailers clearly explain that this is for checking your text only emails once a year)

    This whole thing makes me sad, people really don’t understand the problems/issues. I recently moved and internet was a big factor, we have the NBN 100 plan just to get enough upload capacity so my partner can work from home, we’re lucky enough that it’s fibre to premises, because apparently fibre to node is a $hit$how to connect to if the last tenant didn’t disconnect ‘properly’, worst case you have to pay for a new ‘connection’ (~$200) if they refuse to ‘disconnect’. All most people see is someone is changing something that worked ok-ish to something else I don’t understand and may have to pay more for to get just as good if not worse service.

    • The average speed for adsl in Australia 8mbps so 12/1 Would be as fast if not faster than most people’s existing adsl connection. Used for browsing websites and just 1 or 2 users you’d hardly notice a difference between that and the faster speeds. A lot of businesses run 10/10 shdsl connections with no issues so I think your facts might need checking on this one.

    • For the record, I’m on ADSL2+ but 11km away from the exchange the morons connected my house to. 3Mbps is a good day for me. Even NBN12 would be a massive improvement. Sadly the distance away they are putting the NBN node means I’ll be limited to 25 or 50, no way in hell will I be able to make 100 at this distance. Watch the NBN twats try and turn that into me not wanting the higher speed, though…

      The backhaul cabling (cabling after the copper wire reaches the NBN node from your house) is being replaced with fibre for FTTN, but the copper in the ground for the “last mile” between the node and the house has been sold to NBNCo and is being replaced where necessary to bring it up to the mandated 25Mbps sync speed minimum. Once this is connected however, all the previous copper services (phone line, ADSL, etc) are being terminated. This is because the NBN nodes work on VDSL2, and are unable to supply any other service. All new landline services will actually be VOIP services (voice over internet protocol) rather than actual telephone services.

      Regarding the speed you receive, NBNCo controls the sync speed only. NBNCo have nothing to do with the actual end-user speed delivered beyond making sure the line is capable of 25Mbps minimum. This takes into account the copper “last mile”, and is a guaranteed value. If your speed drops below this and it is not the result of congestion (see below), then NBNCo are obliged to investigate and fix the line to meet this standard (12Mbps in some areas until 2020, when rollout is complete). What this means is that people like myself will no longer be suffering retarded speeds as a result of ridiculously long distances between the delivery point and the exchange. After that, the burden falls on the RSP (retail service provider) to purchase enough backhaul bandwidth to maintain speeds over the peak periods. If they fail to purchase enough bandwidth on the backhaul, then when everyone logs on after work/school, speeds go to hell because everyone is fighting for what little bandwidth there is available. The reason they cheap out is to be able to offer lower cost services by overproviding during the off-peak periods and underproviding during peak usage, as NBNCo’s wholesale backhaul charges are not scaled based on usage (no bulk discount, so it gets very expensive to cover peak usage).

      There are certain RSPs that provide speed guarantees on top of NBNCo’s sync speed guarantee. One that leaps to mind immediately is Leaptel, though I don’t doubt there are others. They guarantee you will receive within 10% of the speed you pay for, or 25Mbps, whichever is lower. What this means is they have purchased enough backhaul bandwidth to actually cover supply to their users even during the peak hours, which most RSPs do not do. The reason they can only guarantee up to 25Mbps is because this is the minimum speed guaranteed by NBNCo, and anything above that is subject to your location relative to the node, and so the length of the copper “last mile”.

      Sorry for the rather long-winded explanation (and if it doesn’t make sense still, let me know and I can try to clarify a bit more, I am a bit tired atm so fear I might have meandered a bit), but I hope this helps explain a few things regarding the new service being offered.

  • Finder tech spokesperson Alex Kidman expressed surprise that so many people still think the NBN is optional.

    Really? None of the ads say ‘You must switch, the old network is being turned off’ (like they did with analog TV). Instead the ads just say how good the NBN is.

    • yes a clear ultimatum needs to be brought forward to these people…… quite a lot of people

  • As I understand it, NBN does not supply it’s own power. Is this true? If so, what does one do when there is an emergency during a power outage and your mobile phone battery is dead?

    • Fibre to the Node nodes have battery backup.
      Fibre to the Premises installs have a battery backup install in the box they put in your house.
      Not sure about HFC. Assuming it works the same as Copper ADSL lines

      • FttP installs only have a battery if you ask for (and i’m almost positive but cant remember exactly, pay for) them now, it was an optional extra when my FttP was installed almost exactly a year ago now.

    • No, the NBN does NOT supply power to your phone, as your current Telstra phone gets its power from the local exchange, unless you have bought a cordless one, that uses a power supply.
      If your home looses power, your FTTN NBN service goes too. ie NO PHONE/INTERNET.
      The NBN node has battery backup, but, if lucky, it lasts about 4 hours.

      If you have FTTP NBN, then you should have a battery backup as well, that is, until it goes flat as well.

      If lost power, and flat mobile, then ‘Good Luck!’

      NBN=1 step forward, 3 steps backwards

    • if you’re worried about it buy a spare battery for your mobile phone, they’re cheap and pretty easy to use, probaby have to double check it’s still charged every 6 months or so.

      if you currently have only cordless phones (like the majority of people) nothing changes, a basic corded phone is required to be able to use it during a blackout

    • Buy a $20 powerbank and use that to charge your phone. You know, take some responsibility for your own situation.

  • I really hope they change their minds on connection methods in my area. The NBN website tells me that our area is slated for 2018, and will be FTTN.

    I have 2 issues with this. Firstly, we don’t have a Telstra phone line into our house. We are on Cable which is awesome! There has NEVER been a Telstra line into this house, it has always been the cable which lives up to its promised 100mbps down.

    Secondly, FTTN plus the increase of users will mean that our service is guaranteed to be slower once we are forced to switch. Why should I be forced to go to a new wholesaler (NBN Co), shop around for a retailer and change my plan (probably to a more expensive one) to get a guaranteed poorer service?

    There are so many people complaining that their NBN service is slower than the ADSL they used to have.

    Is there anyway we could bring a class action lawsuit against the Govt and NBN?

    • I can only gather you are on Optus cable, which technically you should be getting FTTdp and not FTTN.

      I also have an issue, I too am scheduled to have NBN installed in 2018. My question is, if it is that long to begin installation why are they still rolling out FTTN, shouldn’t they move all future installations to FTTdp. I don’t care if they have already completed the FTTN design for my area. They can just rip it up like they did when my area was to begin FTTP installation and then the government changed and getting pushed back to 2018 and forced onto FTTN.

      • My parents also have Optus cable, but when I search their address on the nbn(tm) website, it says they’re getting FTTN. Considering they’re pushing some users from ADSL to fixed-wireless, which is a step backwards, and indeed some users from ADSL to satellite, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they’re also pushing some Optus cable users to FTTN, rather than FTTdp as promised.

        But why? For starters, FTTN is cheaper than FTTdp, and they’ve already blown the budget out by billions, so they can’t exactly afford to go splashing money on the more expensive option. And customer cut-overs are an operating expense, but FTTdp connections require more work to cut over the customer than FTTN, which increases their opex costs, and they’re under pressure to demonstrate they can meet their projected IRR in order to keep the project off the budget.

        So yeah, they have plenty of motivation to keep costs down, and the best way to do that is to install the cheapest technology they can.

        • Aren’t a lot of the “cable” cables in such bad condition that they won’t be able to carry enough signal for NBN? Maybe this is why they’re going to go FTTN, so they can use as little of this copper as possible.

  • By 2020, every household in Australia will have to switch to the NBN — there’s simply no way around it,” he said.

    Its so cute they think the nbn will be finished by 2020…

    • Especially since the original promise was “everyone gets 25Mbps by the end of 2016”. Yet another broken election promise.

  • No different when HD TV began, what is so difficult for a lot more than 6 million people from 23 million to NOT UNDERSTAND the continuing MAJOR changes to Australian infrastructure.
    Someone should tell them that the horse pulling the carriage they are riding in, IT IS NOT allowed by law to use the excuse of supplying garden manure to local people!

  • the problem is alot of people dont have the time or knowledge to switch…

    ISPs are the middleman between the client and the NBN…. this can take up to a week of 1h phone calls on hold to get things moving.

    2x 1h calls a day for 7 days and a NBN connection appointment where you are switched over

    plus basic knowledge of how to set up a modem and VOIP… if not there is prolly another couple of days setting up the modem

    Us network workers cant tell people enough, in fact the people rarely understand the situation..

    many will go dark.

    • It’s not that hard. There are almost no wait times for new customers to sign up. I signed up to Internode last night. Rang up and went straight to someone happy to sign me up. That was a Friday night. Service was live Tues at around noon. So about 1.5 business days. Got home, plugged in my modem and got it going fairly quick. Even easier if you sign up with someone that sends you a preconfigured modem. All you have to do is plug it in.

      • You’re one of the lucky ones then. Sign up was simple but any tiny issue and you’re screwed.
        I’ve been offline for 5 weeks now because of an order screw up on NBN’s end.

        • I dunno, my experience mirrors @darren ‘s above. Called up Internode basically as soon as the NBN was switched on in my area, ordered the service, a few days later some techs came out to the house, they installed the interior box, tested it, all good. I plugged in the modem and that was that, up and running with fibre hitting speeds that are pretty damn close to the 50/20 plan we signed up for. Called up Internode to confirm the connection was all good and to cancel our ADSL and that was that. Easy. Whole process probably took about a week.

          • We had our box installed already. The tech guys said the usually get about 60% of an area hooked up before it goes live. Once it was live though it was pretty painless.

          • There’s an interior box that you would have needed to have installed. You wouldn’t have had that already unless it’s a new home. The exterior box is installed straight away but the interior box requires some techs to come out and install. It’s the interior box the modem plugs into.

          • I’m pretty sure we had that done before it went live?

            Maybe we didn’t it was a few years ago now. Either way, it happened while I was at work so I didn’t have a whole lot to do with it. You could be right.

  • I don’t know/don’t understand anything about the NBN

    That one should really be two separate options, the difference between somehow having absolutely no knowledge of the NBN and knowing it exists but not understanding it is two very different things, for starters one implies you live under a giant rock and haven’t seen a single thing about the NBN and the other means you know about it but for whatever reason dont understand what it is and what it means, which again should be split into two categories, those who’ve bothered to research it and still don’t understand and those who haven’t bothered at all, i think that would paint a much clearer picture about the true nature of ‘shock’ and caring of the public in regards to NBN.

    Anyway I’ve said this before but its no wonder the “general public” don’t have half a clue about the NBN and are putting off thinking about it for as long as possible, NBNCO is a $hit$how no one can get a clear picture of whats going on and even if they think they have one the plans will change in an hour, the government barely mentions it in a positive light, like everything else its a lie perpetrated by @previousgov, only ever mentioned as a blight on the budget full of overblown promises that need to be reduced to $hittier tech to be feasible.
    Not to mention the incredible amount of times the gov has mentioned how “no one needs the full power of the NBN” which is a gross misunderstanding of the current world.

    Combine that with years and years of telstra selling old people the crappiest internet for the highest price because “you only need to get emails”, It really is no wonder.

    • Exactly. You don’t need to understand how an internal combustion engine works in order to drive a car.

  • The trouble is when they install FTTN they cut all the copper off from the exchange, so all your PSTN lines and ADSL services all just stop. You then have to rip out all your PSTN phone connections and switch over the ADSL modem to a VDSL modem and also remove the filter you had with the ADSL service.

    There is no, O.k. ISP I have your new VDSL modem ready, please schedule my PSTN cutover to NBN. Nope, NBN just cut and install the FTTN.

  • What’s interesting is that there doesn’t seem to be much of a middle ground among Australians. There are those who absolutely cannot wait for it to arrive, and then close to two fifths haven’t got a clue,” said Kidman.

    I’m in the middle ground. Back when it was 90+% FTTP I was excited but now that the LNP had destroyed it the reality doesn’t seem as sweet. I weep for the future.

    NBN has flip-flopped what connection I’ll be getting, probably HFC next year. Hopefully they iron out all the problems by then, but I’m not going to jump on it immediately. My ADSL2+ is still adequate and — from what I’ve heard — better and more reliable.

  • I currently have Bigpond cable, such as it is: an unreliable service at best sometimes with speed below 4Mbps instead on the 100+ ii should be getting. Nothing has been done to this creaking, trouble-prone service that I can see – I haven’t seen cable being replaced or work being done in my area. Yet with NBN, I will pay more for slower capped speeds! With all the complaints and issues with connection type, anyone who didn’t think this is a new is clearly delusional.

  • So, will likely get a connection that I should have gotten in the first place, ( 24mbps, currently 5mbps on a good day), which is forced down my throat, possibly for a higher price and no benefits ..I have heard about pulling your pants down, but this is ridiculous!

  • What I would like to know is why we are playing with this crap aynway when they have a new type of data transfer called lightwire that is 300 times faster the optic fiber and runs threw the power wires and transfers data by pulsing the LED lighting even when they are turned of , no need for any optic fiber cable at all all a big scam to control the network like china were they can switch it of when ever they feel like it, copper still works even after a 100 years optic fiber only last 25 years if it is in conduit who is going to pay to replace it, not cost effective, the other thing I hate is that that optic fiber goes to copper once it gets to the house after the modem so how fast is optic fiber if it is copper lines that runs threw out the house we are still using copper.

  • No wonder there’s a lot of confusion. WHen it says

    “By 2020, every household in Australia will have to switch to the NBN — there’s simply no way around it,” he said.

    Isn’t it basically business as usual for adsl (as in not being cut off) in areas serviced by fixed wireless and satelite? Because I’m on the wrong side of the hill to the nbn tower and I don’t want satelite…

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