All The Ways NBN Screwed Up In 2018

All The Ways NBN Screwed Up In 2018
Image: Dave Cooper/Twitter

Another year, the same old multi-technology-mixed mess. Unsurprisingly, this year has been filled with as much NBN-related drama as the last few, from congestion issues to dodgy advertisers to runaway cars taking out whole connection nodes. And, as always, a good number of the population still don’t know when they’re getting it. Let’s look back through some of this year’s most infuriating NBN news (so far).

The year started off messy for NBN, after the company revealed a huge error in judgement regarding HFC connections. Due to ‘interference’ issues causing dropouts for customers on HFC connections, NBN had to suspend its HFC connections, delaying what was already a long process even further. HFC connections were only opened up for sale again in April.

In March, the ACCC had to step in (the first of many times for the year), proposing new advertising standards that would stop customers from paying for speeds their connections couldn’t realistically sustain. The new guidelines basically had to lower customers’ expectations for peak evening speeds.

Later that March, a node in Kellyville was knocked out by a car. The NBN confirmed that the accident had affected around 280 services in the area, but it seemed like that node was just poorly placed (or really unlucky), because it was taken out again less than two weeks later. Twitter users in the area suggested that the combined incidents had left residents without internet for much of the month.

” excerpt=”Here’s an issue that likely wasn’t planned for when NBNCo started building their NBN nodes around Australia. Those big green boxes on the side of the road might be prone to flooding, rendering them useless, or they might even be taken out by a vehicle. That’s what happened in Kellyville, NSW recently.

So what happens when a car hits an NBN node?”]

In April this year, NBN CEO Bill Morrow announced he would be stepping down from the position – and who wouldn’t make that decision with a surge of complaints about the NBN flooding the TIO.

The soon-to-be free CEO then unleashed hell. Once news of his departure was out, Morrow quite happily acknowledged that the ageing copper infrastructure was one of the biggest problems with the NBN. He agreed that the original fibre-only network would have produced much better and more reliable performance.

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By mid-year, the ACCC’s performance monitoring program was in full swing, and had some concerning results for some users. While 7/10 users on the NBN regularly achieved 90 per cent of their maximum plan speed, almost 10 per cent of those on the monitoring program only received half the speed they were paying for.

In a less stringent but nevertheless worrying study, a survey conducted by revealed that a huge 34 per cent of respondents with the NBN would actually rather just go back to their old ADSL connections. Ouch.

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While in some ways the NBN has improved this year on some of last year’s intense congestion problems, there’s bad news there too. The promotional period begun last December to help RSPs provision enough bandwidth for their customer base wrapped up at the end of October, with the NBN forced to issue a (carefully worded) warning that congestion may creep up again – though if it did, it was all the RSPs fault, of course.

More bad news has appeared in recent months, such as the news from ACCC’s monitoring program that there may be a noticeable difference in quality between on-net (such as Telstra, iiNet, Optus and Vocus) connections and off-net (many of the smaller providers) ones. The monitoring system showed a speed difference of almost 10 per cent.

And as always, the have-nots in areas the NBN hasn’t reached continue to refresh the rollout map, hoping their suburb may be coming soon. For many suburbs, however, rollout dates have come and gone and been pushed back again, another delay in what feels like a neverending project.

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So what have been some of the biggest NBN promises that were ultimately broken? Um, this might take a while…”]

While progress has been made in some areas, thanks mainly to good work from the ACCC and certain RSPs, the NBN we currently have feels like a far cry from the one we were originally promised all that time ago.

According to some commentators, this isn’t going to improve without a clear plan from the NBN regarding its future. It’s no wonder competitors are popping up left and right, offering far less messy alternatives that will actually deliver the speeds they promise.

Hopefully 2019 will be a better year for the NBN – or the private providers will reach a level of penetration where we don’t have to worry about the NBN anymore.

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  • Ya know, would just love to say something but ‘I told you so’ seems just about right.

    Anyone in the industry new fibre was the best option. Fibre to the curb/basement a good alternative.

  • The NBN was a disaster started by Labor that every Australian now has to suffer the consequences of.

    In any case, by the time the NBN is completed – 5G will be well established (already being rolled out), which will completely destroy what is left of the loss-making business case. For 80% of users, I wouldn’t be surprised if 5G is adequate. NBN copper/HFC network – made completely redundant for most users except for the high-cost high-usage bit torrentors.

    Textbook definition of absolute failure. Pity it has and will cost the Aussie taxpayer 50bn to realise. That’s 2000 bucks for each of it. Was it worth it? No.

    • It’s time to get off your high horse and acknowledge that the Liberals completely mismanaged this project. They should have done investigation up front to determine if HFC or the copper was good enough.
      There were already stories when the NBN was proposed that Telstra was not maintaining the copper lengths, so this should have been a hint that there could be problems.

      I will acknowledge that Labor underestimated the cost and time required to do the upgrade, but their fibre only plan was the right approach and should have been maintained. Unfortunately there are a lot of shortsighted Liberal voters who can only look for short term gains and not plan for the future.

  • I live in a bayside suburb in Melbourne 8 minutes from the beach. My connection date is…. Jan-Jun 2020 . I currently have two HFC connections into my house. One Optus and One Telstra . I will be getting FTTC.

    When it was originally announced by Labor I thought we were entering the 21st century. But in reality it ended up more of the same. Back to the future. It will all have to either be redone in the next 10 to 20 years or it will be more than totally obsolete.

  • Can’t imagine things will improve either, given that Tandem Corp. (the company responsible for NBN installation) now has the largest class action in Australia against it. Same company who does Foxtel installation, Telstra installation and works for IAG conducting assessments and repairs (NRMA, CGU, RACV)…

    I was scheduled to get NBN mid Nov. the date came and went without any notifications. Checked the NBN website and pushed back another 6-12 months. Third time…

    #losing… 🙁

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