The NBN Sucks: What Can I Do?

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 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.


  • 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

    • Or immigrate to New Zealand where close to 80% of urban homes have fibre. Unlimited gigabit connections are around NZ$100 (which is probably about AU$0.05)

    • 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.

  • Wow, and I thought all the fake news on the NBN was over.

    Trolls still writing guff, quoting ‘fake news’ polls, and quoting people moving from cable to NBN, but never people who have sub 1M ADSL… (we had 10kb connection at our last house in Wantirna vic – along with 24,000 houses around us that didn’t have NBN speeds because telstra STILL hasn’t upgrade ONE card at the exchange)…

    Considering 21% of the USA doesn’ t have above 25Mb speed internet (yeah, the USA, with the big companies with big infrastructure spending are SLOWER than Australia… not everywhere in the USA is left wing atheist religious biggots with lightning speeds, sending data back to the NSA and CIA at lightning speed from your webcam, wach and phone as it records EVERYTHING you do and say)

    Get some respect, get some facts and be glad for what we do have, and celebrate the successes and positives, not the left wing oppinion (hate and more hate).

    Grow up, get some perspective, and realise MOST of Australia has dial-up speeds and 25Mb is HEAVEN and most of Australia is HAPPY with the new speeds. I haven’t heard any back feedback other than people not being able to get it due to the PAUSE by the fact telstra LIED to the NBN about capacity (not surprising they are run by union puppets).

    • I’m gettin 0.1 mbps. Do you think that’s heaven? The fact it takes over 5 minutes to load a 10 second video is heaven? It really isn’t, it’s worst than the slowest countries in the world, if there’s a problem we shouldn’t look the other way and act that nothing happened.

  • I have Aussie Broadband 25/5, and pretty much get 20/3.
    Pretty happy with that.

    P.s. why are my comments always waiting for moderation?
    This bug should have been fixed long ago.

  • I’ve had fttn and for the last 6 months have had nothing but issues. At first it was great then when to s#*t. Complained and nothing is being done. Namco is worse than Telstra with fixing there network. First they said there was no issues found with 8, yes 8 drop outs by the time they submitted the rejection to my complaint. My is then rejected that with an log report from that day. It got rejected and the next day saying the the line to the node was fine and that they couldn’t detect my modem… yeah cause the line jeeps dropped out. So they called it a modem issue. Which doesn’t answer the issue why it will work for 2-3 weeks straight. That responce got rejected and they came back with they have detected a thing called a bridged tap on my line which is now the cause of my drop outs. So I now have to find a technician to actually show up at my home to remove them and hope that is what caused the problem… total utter BS when from one issue to another to not having to just come out to fix the node in the first place…

  • I don’t have NBN and I’ve read the horror stories of being kept in limbo where your ADSL is deactivated and your NBN doesn’t work for several months.
    My question is, if your RSP is struggling to fix your problem and doesn’t really care, are you obliged to pay for several months of nothing?
    I understand that the ACCC has been doing stuff and the ADSL/NBN tag team match is not as bad as it was.
    I do have a mobile broadband which I can use in the short term.

  • What I don’t understand why we can’t have symmetric NBN.. When I was in Europe recently, free wifi in public places like museums, as well as hotels was consistently symmetric, with up- and down-load speeds between 30-50Mbps. And in the Dutch equivalent of the Aus. Inst.Sport (AIS) it was 80Mbps up and down. And that was free and public… imagine what their private speeds might be like?

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