The NBN Sucks: What Can I Do?

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The NBN is a painful political boil on the government's arse. After the promise of fast 100Mbps connections was squashed by the Abbott/Turnbull government, in favour of a program that said 25Mbps qualified as broadband, there have been all sorts of delays and issues with the service. A recent survey, albeit with a small sample size, quantified some of that pain, with many NBN customers saying they'd prefer to go back to their old ADSL connections. You know things are bad when ADSL looks like a better option. So, what can you do about it if you're on the NBN but it sucks?

The survey, conducted by, asked 984 people about their NBN service. 34 percent said they'd prefer to go back to their old service saying what they had was more reliable, faster or less expensive. In other words, they said the NBN delivered exactly the opposite of what were were originally promised when Labor proposed the network or when the Liberal/National coalition said 25Mbps was "good enough".

If the NBN trucks have rolled down your street and you've been connected but found things have become worse, what can you do?

Try different RSPs

The easiest way to switch from your old internet connection via an ISP (Internet Service Provider) to the NBN is by sticking with the same company, who under the NBN is now called an RSP (Retail Service Provider).

However, the easy road may not be the best road. RSPs purchase access to the NBN from NBN Co under an arrangement called a CVC (Connectivity Virtual Circuit). In simple terms, if the NBN connection to your area offers 100 units of connectivity, RSPs, lease a portion of that capacity. If your RSP buys 20 units and has 40 customers, then their CVC basically equates to having half a connectivity unit per premises.

But if another RSP purchase 40 units and has 40 customers, then each customer has access to one unit, therefore potentially delivering better performance.

That's a simplification of what happens but helps to understand how different RSPs connecting houses on the same street can offer significantly different performance.

When the NBN comes to you, avoid long-term contracts so you can easily change to a different RSP if you're not happy with your initial choice.

Plans aren't the same

Most entry-level NBN plans offer 12 Mbps for downloads and 1 Mbps for uploads. While that is faster than what many people get on their ADSL services, depending on where they live in relation to phone exchanges and the quality of the copper cable in their street, it's not always better.

I suspect some of the dissatisfaction with the NBN comes from people paying the same amount of money but finding their new connection, which costs the same, is slower because they've picked a plan that doesn't match the service they had before.

If you're getting more than 12 Mbps on your ADSL connection, then entry level NBN plans probably aren't for you.

The same goes for HFC cable customers. I'm currently on Telstra cable and have a 100/5 Mbps service. Dropping to an equivalently priced plan may mean losing some of that download speed - although that may be a worthwhile sacrifice to get better upload capacity.

You'll need to find a plan that meets your performance needs as well as the costs. As NBN plans are set out differently to the way things were previously done, you might need to shop around to find a plan that suits you.


If you're not getting the service you're paying for, then you need to register a complaint. While launching an online rant may feel good, it's unlikely to result in any action by your RSP or NBN Co.

Before the NBN is installed and activated at your premises, it's a good idea to test the speed of your connection. There are several services that make this easy.

Keep a record of the tests, carrying them out at different times. Having data that backs up your complaint will help as it it's pretty hard to argue when you have proof.

After your service is installed, repeat the tests so you can compare the differences between the old and new services. that data will help if you need to complain.

Start by contacting the RSP's support services. It might be hard, but you need to be patient. If they cannot resolve the issues then tell them you'll be escalating this to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO). If the TIO decides your company is reasonable, they can direct the RSP take some sort of action including refunds, releasing your from a contract at no cost, or some other remedy.


    Ah, Anthony, I love your lefty-political articles - which really should be tagged as 'opinion'. The NBN is just another one of those famous Labor thought bubbles that wasn't realistic or economic. Throw on top of that Rudd's costing of $6 billion for the whole of Australia to be connected to the NBN and it just shows you how deluded he and Conroy really were. Did either of these two has a clue? They did seem keen on bankrupting the economy. The NBN is a joke (most projects run by politicians are in the end), and I know of people who dearly wish they never connected to it. Its a shame Labor had made it mandatory for all Australians. Good advice though on changing RSPs and complaining.

      Not sure "lefty-political" is what I was going for. As a consumer I want fast, reliable and cheap internet connectivity. As I've said before, the NBN is not a technology project, it's a civil engineering project. It's more like upgrading the sewer pipes or powerlines than a technology project.

      For someone complaining about it being political... your response was very one sided too.
      Both sides of government promised, both failed to deliver (which is stated clearly I thought in the article), and the consumer is the one that is screwed depending on their geographical location. This article is about helping consumers understand why they might be having issues beyond blaming NBN Co. or Telstra.

      Holy shit, I don't think I've met anyone so openly ignorant of what an infrastructure project actually is and how it works, let alone the details of why it's actually a trainwreck.
      I mean, this amount of ignorance surely takes large amounts of energy to maintain.
      Imagine being that stupid.

        We dont have to imagine. Franktheturtle has provided us an example.

          But imagine BEING him and spending all that energy to actively maintain that ignore in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
          I mean wow. I don't know whether to be appalled or maybe kinda impressed?

            Some people are stuck in their own little group think they refuse to change their views even when irrefutable fact is presented to them.

            Only the delusional think the current state of the NBN is solely the fault of Labor.

            Sure labors plan was not rolled out in the best priority. But it was still a 100x better than the LNP's multi technology mix. Youd have to be a simpleton to think Copper is a more viable solution than fibre.

      Please do provide us with your solution to our network infrastructure that is better than optical fibre.

      Labor's idea would have future proofed our network.

      But please, Do continue to live in ignorance.

      Firstly, this article does not mention that Labor's plan is better. If it critiqued the government's failure in favour of Labor, then maybe you'd have half a leg to stand on. But instead, it critiques them both, saying the network is falling flat for both their promises.

      Second, if you're wondering about cost, the current cost of the NBN has blown way past their projections too, with the rollout being botched, and in some areas stopping all together. What's worse is that while the Labor plan was overly optimistic (probably under what it would actually cost by a ridiculous degree), the Liberal plan is cheaper only at the beginning, and will only be more expensive in the long term. This is because copper sucks and needs a lot of upkeep compared to fiber, and while under Labor's plan, the amount raised would increase as people took up higher speed plans, the Liberal plan basically guarantees that the revenue will be static (copper is limited in upper speeds).
      Here's an explainer:
      Third, if the NBN stayed fibre to the home or fibre to the distribution point, I strongly doubt we'd be in this mess now. Mandatory upgrade to a better service (Labor) is great, but a mandatory upgrade to a worse copper service is terrible.

      You may want to read this by Rod Tucker, from the University of Melbourne written two years ago and even more relevant today...

      “Since the days of dial-up modems, there has been a relentless growth in demand for higher broadband speeds. But the 2014 Vertigan report underestimated Australia’s future broadband needs by a factor of ten.

      "Vertigan supported the Coalition’s game-changing shift from fibre to the premises (FTTP) to fibre to the node (FTTN).

      “Since Vertigan, a lot has happened in the broadband world. For example, the major US telco AT&T has switched from FTTN to FTTP, arguing that demand is growing for speeds that FTTN cannot deliver. And rollouts of FTTP are accelerating in many countries. Australia is rapidly being left behind.

      “All of this points in one direction: Australia’s FTTN network will be obsolete by the time it is rolled out and will not be able to deliver the speeds that will be needed in the future.

      “Unlike FTTP and other technologies such as fibre to the distribution point (FTTdP), FTTN will be expensive to upgrade and a future owner of the FTTN network may not bother. Every way you look at it, FTTN is a bad idea.

      “The notion FTTP is much more expensive than FTTN turns out to be incorrect. The cost of rolling out FTTN is often understated and the cost of rolling out FTTP is overstated. New lower-cost FTTP construction techniques and cost increases for FTTN have changed the equation.

      “My advice to the Senate Select Committee on the NBN is that the FTTN rollout should be abandoned before it is too late, and replaced with FTTP.”

      Thus endeth the lesson for today.

    Another thing to try if you are on FTTN which helped boost my peak possible speed is to replace your phone line from the point it enters your house to where your modem is. If you have phone extensions, these may cause interference with the signal and reduce your possible peak speed. I managed to get another 20Mbps doing this. Obviously doesn't help with congestion/distance from node issues

      That's great advice no_nick. Yep - local issues like your router config and other factors can make a big difference.

    At least they have been connected. Officially it could still be another 2 years before I am connected ????

      My place is currently not even scheduled but I'm OK with that while my HFC keeps delivering 100Mbps. And I'll only move when I'm sure the connection won't be worse or until I'm forced.

        I'm in the same boat on cable. NBN is being installed in my street as we speak. From all the advertising I've seen it will be more money for less speed. I'm going to hang on as long as I can.

          What ever you do, try to stay on your old plan for as long as possible. I just switched over to NBN a week or so ago and my speed went from 80mbps on average to 35mbps if I'm lucky. I'm also having trouble connecting my devices to the network as well (TV won't connect to the internet). Another thing I also found was that the Telstra modem that was supplied doesn't put out as strong a signal as my old router and I've had to put an extender in so I can get wifi through the back of my house....

    Aussiebroadband. It will change your life. They promise to not overload their network and they dont. I have just about zero drops in speed and if i do it goes from a solid 95 dn to about 70dn, totally acceptable. I was with my-republic before them and i would get less then 1dn during peak hours. Just crazy. Im on HFC network btw

    Even a new, most likely expensive, router can do wonders for your stability and speed.

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