NBNco Says Most People Don’t Want 100Mbps

NBNco Says Most People Don’t Want 100Mbps
Image: iStock

History is littered with grandiose statements that seemed reasonable(ish) at the time but were proven to be completely ludicrous. There’s the statement made by Bill Gates that 640K of memory ought be enough for everyone and Thomas John Watson, the Chairman of IBM saying there was a market in the world for just five computers. And now, NBNCo has come up with their own version – the 100Mbps speed limit.

Earlier this week, NBNCo announced they will be enabling DOCSIS 3.1 on the HFC network they are operating. DOCSIS 3.1 has been actually been commercially available since 2017 but at least it’s coming now.

According to the NBNCo statement, “DOCSIS 3.1 technology… significantly improves the spectral efficiency of the HFC network and allows NBN Co to use new higher range spectrum therefore doubling the capacity available”.

Given more people are signing on to high-speed plans these days, with the company saying 75% of new end-user premises coming onto the nbn network are now taking either 50Mbps or 100Mbps services and almost half of the 4.1 million activated premises are on 50Mbps or above speeds, there’s obviously a market for faster connections. It’s worth noting that no-one is saying the 12Mbps plans on offer are a growing market segment.

But what’s missing from the statement is talk of 1Gbps connections. Last year, when DOCSIS 3.1 was just a glint in NBNCo’s eye, there was talk of gigabit speeds being an option. But in comments made to The New Daily the company said there will be a cap of 100Mbps for retail customers because a “very small number” of customers are demanding the fastest speeds possible.

According to data from NBNCo, 143 1Gbps services were in use. About two-thirds of those were delivered by MyRepublic, which temporarily offered a special price to Wollongong residents but they no longer offer a 1Gbps plan at any price.

I guess it’s possible NBNCo will offer faster speeds through RSPs if the demand is presented. But a forward thinking country wouldn’t be having this discussion. Sure, 1Gpbs services might be priced at a premium but completely dumping it as an option is crazy. There are residential customers who crave faster speeds. With the number of connected devices in Aussie homes increasing rapidly and our dependence on cloud and streaming services for communication and entertainment growing we will only need more bandwidth.

Instead, we have an infrastructure company trying to balance a civil engineering project, a hostile political environment that has mixed ideology with technology and a growing population that is increasingly made up of digital natives who see fast bandwidth as an essential service so they can learn, work and be entertained.

And that may be why this policy by NBNCo is its 640K moment.


  • But in comments made to The New Daily the company said there will be a cap of 100Mbps for retail customers because a “very small number” of customers are demanding the fastest speeds possible.

    Yeah, “no-body” is “demanding” it. And I s**t gold bricks.

    • Well the few people who are demanding faster internet from NBN Co… soon realise they are talking to goverment sponsored idiocy and stop asking them and go elsewhere.

    • Pretty hard to demand it when theres no retail option available. And no easy avenue to state the preference. Interesting thing in that statement is the fastest speeds possible part.

      It says the NBN is capable of more than 100 Mbps, which raises questions. Mainly, if we’ll never need more than 100 Mbps, why was the money wasted supplying it?

      Even post 2013 when LNP had control, why were 100 Mbps options looked at and considered? DOCSIS 3.1, FTTdp, etc all deliver 1 Gbps plus, so why are they being rolled out? Surely its a waste of money building something we don’t need…

      Isnt that against a third of their mantra of cheaper, faster, sooner?

      I call bullshit. Its pure justification for not giving us better, and ignores the global push for much much faster.

      • Exactly, I can’t say I’ve seen any ISP offering a plan faster than 100MBit. Maybe they exist but certainly not with the sort of ISPs most people use.

        If I could get gigabit speeds without breaking the bank I’d certainly consider it. Though I’m not sure my router would cope.

        • MyRepublic offered a 1 Gbps plan here a year ago for $130 a month. If I hadnt been stuck in contract with TPG I’d have grabbed the chance, and by the time I was out they’d ended it. And stated quite clearly that it was just too expensive to offer it.

          People wanted it, they couldnt afford it thanks to the CVC. This is what pisses me off with all this. The NBN CAN deliver these speeds, in certain areas. But they make it prohibitive to even offer it where it can.

          Heres a thought. Where the NBN can deliver those speeds, make it cheap enough for the ISP’s to be able to offer it, and see if those areas take it up. Or even a 200 Mbps plan. If they dont want it, no damage done, but if they do, maybe it’ll encourage them to do better in the areas where it cant be offered right now.

          You cant gauge the desire over 6 months either, it takes a couple of years to see a takeup rate. They ratted on NBN when it started, claiming nobody wanted it, yet now, claim everyone’s jumping on it. But magically, only at the speeds they want to deliver.

          The NBN itself can deliver those speeds, either with FttP, or DOCSIS 3.1, and maybe FTTdp. Its just frustrating that the limiting factor is a wholesale cost that does nothing but slow down progress.

          • You might have dodged a bullet on the Myrepublic plan. $130 isn’t terrible price wise, but their 100mbit plan was the worst performing speed wise recently.

            I hope the provisioning costs drop drastically in the near future, but I don’t think they will. Meaning we’ll be stuck with high costs.

          • Not to get too far off topic but a mate of mine is on MyRepublic’s 100 Mbit plan and also noticed something amiss.

            So we decided to take a look. What was originally throwing us off was how Steam performed well but some streaming sites (where a VPN was used) were worse than dial up.

            Long story short, we found that while local routing (within Australia) is very good, the international routing (even just trying to access sites in New Zealand) was slow.

            As a laugh, we used the VPN to a server in Australia. And suddenly ….. we had far faster international routing.

            Don’t get me wrong, if I could even get 100 Mbps (still on ADSL in my area) I would love it. But at the same time it defeats the purpose of fast Internet if international routing is sub-par.

        • Aussie Broadband offer speeds higher than 100mbit to many of their FTTP customers. I’m currently on a 250/100 plan though they also have a 150/100 plan.

          As far as I can tell, there’s a few main issues preventing take up of speeds higher than 100mbit.

          1. The vast majority of the network that NBNco have now rolled out, isn’t capable of anything higher. FTTN, Fixed Wireless and Satellite are basically doomed to stay as they are until they are replaced with another technology. HFC and FTTC technologies are capable of higher speeds but NBN is in no hurry to offer them. As we’ve seen in this article here, NBN likes to cite a lack of demand for services that aren’t even able to be ordered by the Australian public at large.

          There is already so much fragmentation in the market for RSPs to manage due to all the various technologies in the MTM rollout, I’m doubtful the bigger ISPs would even want to consider enabling higher speed plans just for FTTP users.

          2. The current CVC pricing mechanism makes it cost prohibitive for smaller ISPs to be able to offer gigabit speeds on a given POI. As an example, Aussie Broadband wanted to ensure that a given POI had 1Gb of CVC purchased before enabling 250bmit plans in order to allow for a congestion free experience in peak periods. If the same ratio is extrapolated out, an ISP may need to have up to 4Gb’s worth of CVC purchased for a given POI before enabling gigabit services. Which leads to the next point:

          3. The ACCCs decision to force NBNco to rollout 121 POIs rather than than the initial planned 14 (1 per state plus 1 for redundancy) has had a massive impact upon the possible economies of scale for smaller ISPs. If an RSP were only needing to provide connectivity at 14 POI’s then we would have ended up with a situation where having 4Gb’s worth of CVC allocated wasn’t an unthinkable burden on smaller ISPs as they would have many more customers to spread the cost over. Instead the ACCCs decision has unfortunately resulted in market consolidation rather than increased competition.

          So between a less technologically capable NBN rollout, CVC pricing, the ACCCs POI decision, and a government that has no desire to reveal how much slower their chosen technology really is we’ve ended up with a perfect storm that will artificially cripple our internet speeds in Australia for quite a long time.

          The only possible solution I see to this is a new government that will mandate a very drastic change in CVC pricing (or possibly eliminating it all together). Obviously this is going to have a drastic impact on NBNCo’s finances, but would enable RSPs to begin offering higher speed tiers on the market without prohibitive costs. If NBN then opened up higher speed tiers for HFC and FTTC customers, the public outcry from those on FTTN technologies would begin to show the demand for higher speed tiers exists and would give a government the public support it needs to replace FTTN with a better long term solution.

          Assuming it’s a Labor government that does this, it will give them a nice opportunity to really hammer home just how poor the decision to switch to the MTM was back in 2013. Their original FTTP roll out will be the continual benchmark against which all the other introduced technologies will be measured against, especially in terms of ongoing maintenance + support costs in the long term.

        • Launtel do in Tasmania with pretty decent plans. They charge by the day so you can drop your speed up and down as needed. Mate was talking in a FB group that he maxed out at 300 when trying 500 for a day and the owner popped on and said “We’ve refunded you for that day”. We are pretty sure it was his equipment at home.

          There is a limit per day that banks over time and there is a free for all between certain hours. So not truly unlimited but they are trying to keep it reasonable.

          • That’s a pretty cool idea. And certainly a great response from the owner. Reminds me of “old” Internode when they were still so proactive.

  • We are talking per household, which is insane if you think a nuclear family of 4 with mobiles devices, computers, smart televisions, streaming and the internet of things…. yeah NOT ENOUGH, especially when the average connection is less than 80% of the speed applied when you have a quality and stable connection (many complain they can’t even get a stable connection or speeds less than ADSL). Thats 20Mbps per family member at best.

    With 4k streaming and 8k being sold at electronic conventions as the next thing…. Sony and Microsoft working on streaming gaming, 100Mbps is not future proof.

    • This was pretty much what I was thinking. Netflix recommend 25MBit for 4k streaming (not sure if that’s SDR or HDR). It’s not going to be hard to saturate even a 100MBit connection with a 4 person family watching content.

      If they ever manage to get 4k game streaming happening it’s only going to be worse since you want higher framerates (shooting for 60 fps) that would suggest you’d need 50Mbit per second to steam a 4k game @ 60fps from the cloud.

    • I’m in a household of two and things lag on a 100 Mbps connection. Not enough to be an issue, but you notice it when we’re both streaming, or some big patch is downloading.

  • I would gladly, gleefully order a 100mbps service tomorrow if I could. Sadly, the NBN’s superfast MTM network limits me to an absolute max of around 40mbps. I guess I mustn’t need to go any faster otherwise they’d put the infrastructure in place wouldn’t they?

    • Well, Uncle Malcolm broke our internets.

      There is a solution if you can stump up the cash, but the price is steep. I was getting ~8Mbps on FTTN (below the minimum standard required by NBN, but they didn’t seem to care). They have something called the technology choice program which allows you to have FTTP rolled out to your place.

      Sadly it cost me $12k. Don’t regret it for a second. Unfortunately it’s not available to those on HFC or FTTC at this stage, but hopefully one day it will be.

    • You are so right! I was in an Indian city 5 years back and had a fiber to home connection 1Gbps (albeit with 100 GB download limit) costing $24AUD. And know what, the modem was free…

  • Life Hacker, are you serious?
    NBNCo’s statement is just foolish. But Bill Gates and Watson? Not even close!
    They said that based on the technology level at the time. While 100Mbps “broad”band is a technology from the last decade!

  • “Youll never need more than the horse and cart!”
    “Youll never need more than morse code!”
    “Youll never need more than travelling internationally by ship!”

    Anyone who says “Youll never need more than..” should be fired. Because people like that are why the current NBN is an utter disgrace.

  • It’s hard to understand why it wasn’t enabled years ago by Telstra and Optus when they operated the cable networks but at least it’s coming now

    Probably due to the cost to roll-out new CMTS and PHY equipment, along with the fact that by the time the spec was finalised, the existing Networks had already signed agreements with NBN to sell/lease their networks. The same reason that most new DSL rollouts and upgrades stopped once NBN was announced and only really continued when it was clear that NBN timelines were a moving target.

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!