One of the best things about the NBN is that the provider of the infrastructure, NBN Co, is not the retailer that sells you access to the service. And while that's why next door neighbours buying similar services can end up with different performance, it also means you can choose who you want to deal with. But, according to a recent survey, that's not what we do. Most people stick with their current ISP when they choose their Retail Service Provider (RSP).
The research, conducted by Finder, found 80% of the 1235 people they surveyed stuck with the same service provider when the NBN rolled into their street. Half of those people say they shopped around but decided their existing ISP would make a decent RSP. But another big cohort, one in five of those surveyed, said it was "easier to stay with the same provider, so I did".
Interestingly, over a hundred of the people Finder contacted responded that they didn’t know they could switch providers or didn't understand the NBN so they stayed with same provider. And a similar number didn't switch as they had time left on their current contract that needed to be served out.
Australians aren't always this conservative when it comes to switching service providers. With power companies, we lead the world when it comes to taking our money and swapping electricity retailers.
When the NBN hits your street, if it hasn't already, my advice is to shop around and avoid any sort of lock-in contract, at least initially. RSPs purchase their wholesale access to the NBN under varying terms and it's possible RSPs servicing the same area will deliver quite different experiences.
For example, two friends of mine who live near each other have quite different service experiences. One is with an RSP that offers a 4G backup in case of NBN outages while the other doesn't have the backup service. However, while the backup service has kicked in several times for up to ten minutes at a time, the other friend has not had a single outage.
There are also plenty of stories of how switching RSP resulted in slow connections suddenly becoming faster.
So, avoid lock-in and try a couple of different RSPs before making a commitment.