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 finder.com.au, 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 complaint 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.
This story has been updated since its original publication.