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.
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.
When the NBN was first touted over a decade ago, we expected a high-speed network using the latest technology. But after a change in government we saw the original vision crushed and we landed with the multi-technology mix pushed by the Coalition government.
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 finder.com.au revealed that a huge 34 per cent of respondents with the NBN would actually rather just go back to their old ADSL connections. Ouch.
Has your NBN connection been less congested in the last year or so? Unfortunately I've got some bad news for you: At the end of October NBN Co will conclude a temporary promotional deal on extra bandwidth for retailers, and that's expected to bring back some of that dreaded congestion.
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.
With 2018 shaping up as an election year - we could go to the polls as early as 4 August 2018 if the government calls it - a number of key battleground issues are forming. One of those is the National Broadband Network. Both governments have policies around the NBN with the electorate finally realising it's a significant project that is important to everyone.
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.