Where Are The Gigabit NBN Plans?

Where Are The Gigabit NBN Plans?
Image: Pantip

The NBN party is rolling down my street at the moment so I’m looking at what my options are when it comes to offers and plans. And it’s all pretty disappointing. I live in an area where the best option has been HFC cable so I’ve had the option of either 30Mbps or 100Mbps connectivity. So, the lack of a faster option, which I’d gobble up in a hurry, has me wondering, where are the really fast NBN plans?

Back in 2017, NBN CO’s then CEO, Bill Morrow, said “The fact is, nbn already offers a wholesale 1Gbps product to retail service providers, which RSPs can make available to more than 1.5 million homes, and has been on sale for around four years”.

But asking around my friends and colleagues, I can’t find a single person with access to these mythical plans.

Looking back through the NBN Co Wholesale Market Indicators Report shows a disturbing trend for those seeking faster internet access

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In 2016, there were just 17 plans across the entire NBN market that offered gigabit speeds. By the end of 2017, that jumped to 173 plans. And it seemed things were on the up. But by the end of last year, the number of 1000Mbps plans slumped to just 84.

So, despite the number of people connected to the NBN moving along at about 40,000 new premises a week, the number of fast plans being offered is falling. The only reasons I can imagine for this are that actually delivering on the plans is too hard in many areas or users simply aren’t asking for 1Gbps plans. It feels like scoring a gigabit NBN connection is less likely that winning the lottery.

So, who is offering these 84 gigabit plans?

Leading the way is MyRepublic with 53 different gigabit options. After that, it’s seven from Optus, one from Telstra with the remaining 23 coming from “Other”.

That’s a damning picture of what was originally meant to be world-class broadband network.

At the moment, I have a 100/5 connection through Telstra Cable. In a few weeks, when the NBN is hooked up, I assume I’ll have the option of a 100Mbps plan although, looking at the junk mail hitting my mailbox, upload speeds seem to be a little harder to find, and the NBN 100Mbps plans seem to be dearer than my current offer.

But no-one is giving me a 1000Mbps option – presumably because the original FTTP NBN plan has been ditched in favour of the multi-technology mix which has likely added significant costs to to the NBN in the longer term and reduced the financial value of entire network.

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The SpeedTest Global Index for January has Australia ranked at 60th in the world – a drop of five places from the previous index. It’s worth considering that the number is dragged down by the tail of ADSL users who haven’t yet switched to the NBN and some people opting for slower NBN plans although the 50Mbps plan seems to be the sweet spot for many customers.

More and more people working from home and trying to take advantage of digital technologies that allow us to redefine the nature of work. Entertainment is shifting away from terrestrial antenna services to on-demand streaming and other opportunities such as telehealth and remote education mean that the amount of bandwidth we will need is only going to increase.

The fact remains – those seeking a faster option are missing out. Across the entire NBN marketplace, with dozens of RSPs offering myriad plans, there are about 94,000 different plans on offer. Fewer than one in a thousand offer gigabit speeds.

It seems that while ADSL is, thankfully, reaching the end of its days, the fastest connections on the NBN are no better than what those lucky enough to have access to HFC cabvle have had for close to a decade.

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  • Personally, this is a story that could be reposted every 6 months and not get stale. The NBN can deliver gigabit speeds, and has been able to for 6 years. Its the providers that aren’t offering them though.

    There are reasons, namely cost, but at the end of the day if they don’t offer them, nobody can possibly access them. So the claims that nobody wants them become self fulfilling.

    Make people aware they are possible though, and get people asking for them. Maybe then the RSP’s can put pressure on NBN for the wholesale costs to be dropped to a point its viable. Right now, its only viable as a bulk offering, with multiple residences combining to cover the cost then splitting it via wireless.

    Kind of pointless.

    FYI, I cant find any reference to Gigabit plans on MyRepublic now. They used to offer plans here in Wollongong, but that stopped about a year ago due to the cost. Now, the best I can see are 100 Mbps plans so unless they are uncapped and let you go as high as the modem allows, they aint showing Gb plans now. If it is modem capped, they don’t advertise it.

      • Hadnt forgotten them. The whole Gigabit thing is essentially exclusive to the best connections though, which should be apparent to most people interested. If they cant get 100 Mbps, why would someone think they can get 10x that?

        To me, I was focussing on FttP as that’s what I have but fair point.

        I don’t know if DOCSIS 3.1 HFC can get there, but it might get close enough to consider it anyway. The same applies to FttC which I think can get 1 Gbps. At least FttC can be personally upgraded to replicate FttP though, at a reasonable cost.

        FttB, I have no idea. Many blocks that use it would have long copper loops from the basement to the unit, which could make them functionally the same as FttN. Or they could be as good as FttC, its another lottery.

        But the 40%, 50%, 60%, or whatever it is that can only get FttN are shit outa luck as you say. They aint getting no better than they can today, unless someone spends thousands running a hair thin fibre optic line from the node to their house, or a RSP overbuilds their FttN line with something better. Which isn’t happening any time soon for most.

        For the greater story though, take 1 Gbps out of it. Why aren’t there 200 Mbps or 400, or 500? It doesn’t HAVE to scale from 100 to 1000 as a next step, there are intervals they could supply that would minimise the cost issue.

        My main point was that NBN is capable of that, and more, so its not the network that’s preventing the speeds existing. And the more people aware of that the better, so users can start asking for it and show theres demand.

        • For what it’s worth, Aussie Broadband have quite widely available plans at 150/100 and 250/100 speeds for those lucky enough to be on FTTP. They cost a bit more than standard plans though due to the additional AVC and CVC overheads required.

        • I have a friend who runs a telco and I’m on FttP at home. Best I can get is 100/40.
          Just sent a message asking who’s holding out on me down the line from getting gigabit.

          • I expect the answer will be about the CVC costs of supplying that much bandwidth. Its not cheap. RSP’s get subsidised to a point, then its crazy expensive.

            I think RSP’s get the first 150 Mbps free then its something like $11/Mbps, but don’t quote me on that. It used to be around that anyway. That’s what you’re mate will say. They only need about 170 Mbps to deliver 100% speeds for 100/40 outside of peak and are willing to take the criticism for those peak periods, knowing everyone else does the same.

            Theres enough blame to go both ways. NBN just points out, and correctly, that its able to provide the speeds but they make no mention of the costs. So some blame is on them because its so expensive, while the RSP’s deserve some as well because they just wont offer it regardless. Its cloudy enough they can blame the other all day.

            Neither is willing to though, knowing their role isn’t clean either, so neither side wants to make it an issue. They just blame us instead, citing that nobody wants it, and use bullshit stats to back it up.

            In the past they used the dropping percentage of 100/40 users for new connections, conveniently ignoring the fact that 90% of new connections were limited to FttN and hence unable to get 100/40… The stat was true, the conclusion was incredibly misleading.

            Stats do that. I (jokingly) argued the other day that Captain Marvel was the worst performing MCU movie to date, and “proved” it. Was simply a measure of US domestic take, adjusted for inflation. So it was still behind Incredible Hulk and technically the worst performing MCU movie… Stat was true, and even the conclusion wasn’t wrong. It was just incredibly misleading.

        • Honest question, and I want more power on everything I do, but I have HFC stable connection 100/40 and pretty much sit close to those speeds 24/7. Do I really need gigabit speeds? I stream multiple services, download, search the next, insta and more all at the same time with no delay. Not sure what else a home could need.

          Once again, if available, I’d pay for more speed but yeah. Just asking

          • It depends on a lot of things, but frankly, probably not yet. We will at some point in the future though, and it wont be as far in the future as people think.

            Thing about this is that at every point where technology has changed, a group has asked the question – why do we need it. Its an impossible question to answer because we cant predict the future, but every time there has been something

            The jump from dialup to ADSL1 was huge at the time, but wasn’t needed if you just stuck to dialup things. But MP3’s happened to come along around the same time, and downloading started to be A Thing.

            ADSL2 coincided wit the explosion of social media, which absorbed all the capability. Today, its streaming doing the job, but also the sheer amount of data flowing around needs it as well. While its impossible to predict what it will be, theres always something that comes along.

            I expect 4K streaming to take up a bigger chunk of our use over the next few years, and when you start adding in 4K gaming as well, its going to add up fast. If gaming streaming takes off, that’s going to need a lot of bandwidth as well. So suddenly 400 Mbps might be wanted just to guarantee a stable connection.

            We’re not at that point yet, but the signs are there for it to be A Thing in the next 5 years. And we need to start planning for that now, or be left behind like we have already.

          • That’s a great response. Forward thinking is essential and we will need these speeds soon. Seeing that the internet has been around for approx. only 25 years, you could EASILY argue that we might need these speeds in 5 to 10 years.

    • All of Tasmania. Mate in the south has used Gigabit several times. Launtel charge by the day so you can go blazing fast on the weekend and drop it down during the week.

  • I am in the same boat. Currently on Optus cable and get the same speeds. But “upgrading” to the NBN will see a small increase in upload but the same download for a higher price. Doesn’t seem worth it.

  • The writer has mistaken “nbn plans” with “nbn plans on offer”. Those figures are the number of active contracts for gigabit internet on the nbn. The figures dropped when my republic stopped its promotion period for Wollongong, NSW. The plans with the other ISP’s are business/commercial accounts.

    No point complaining about lack of gigabit Ethernet when most of the population won’t even pay for 100mbps even when on offer. Asides from new developments in the last decade, it’s an anomaly to see a home even properly wired up for gigabit networking. If households won’t pay an extra $20 a month for 100mbps, there’s no way they would pay thousands to have Cat6 cabling installed.

  • Hi Anthony,
    I have also heard of the 1gbps offering from Launtel in Launceston,
    I really can’t imagine what you want with all that speed?
    You need to go after a commercial/business connection, I have heard of 400Mbps offerings from Exetel I think.
    Otherwise you’re NBN model has 4 ports you can probably amalgamate 4 x 100/40 mbit connections ,

    I can’t imagine why all that bandwidth would actually be necessary, for a home user, if you contact a wholesale provider and ask for something bigger, yeah it’s possible and you will pay for it, maybe you’ll need to rent an office space closer to the city that will have spare fibres for you to access. You will however be able to get that sort of bandwidth.

    I don’t think you have thought about it enough, or made enough enquiring and I would be coming up with a solid business plan so that you know what you using that speed for. Sorry I find your article a bit rubbish without justification of what you would need a huge connection for. Feel free to drop me an email response.

    • Given I need to move large files around for my work routinely, faster connectivity (in both directions – don’t get me started on the asynchronous packages we are stuck with) means I can save time and get more stuff done. Do I need Gbps today – maybe not. But 100Mbps gets in the way for me now.

  • I have 100MBit FTTP and if I’m honest with myself I don’t really need a gigabit plan right now.

    I probably will in 5 years time though, which is why the entire network should have been built to handle future needs instead of yesterday’s needs.

  • Launtel serves Gigabit to all of Tasmania and there are a handful of other ones but it’s pricey. MyRepublic were offering as a publicity stunt but they are like the Kogan of ISP’s. Exceptionally shitty and worse than no support, lying support everytime I called them. Funnily enough they sorted out months of false charges in a day after I contacted the ombudsman.

  • Way back in 2013 when the first Blacktown services were launched, NBN Co released 3 new speed tiers, being 250/100, 500/200 and 1000/400. In their release at the time it was trumpeted that the gigabit plans would be available for $150. However, that $150 was the AVC cost (line cost) they charged to RSPs. On top of that, RSPs would need to buy CVC capacity (ie data traffic) which at the time was $20/Mbps/month. So the 1Gbps of traffic would cost $20k/month.

    Now RSPs obviously have contention built into their networks, so not all customers are using that 1Gbps at the same time, so the $20k cost could be spread over many customers. But the problem was always that once you have enough customers to make the $20k/month investment viable, there would be so many customers trying to share that 1Gbps that no-one would get anything close in peak times, and outside of peak times it could be possible, assuming you could find content available to be served to you at those speeds.

    Now while it’s possible that there are some of these services around (most specifically MyRepublic), I suspect that most/all of them are either RSP test services, or where the wrong speed tier has been chosen when the service is provisioned with NBN. Telstra and Optus, for example, have never had a consumer 1Gbps NBN service on offer.

  • I have been connected to the NBN since March 2017, the best we can get is 11 Mbps, and we have been complaining since then, the NBN and the providers been like the three monkeys, I can’t see, can’t hear, can’t talk.

  • Honestly I am more intrigued by lack of 100/100 plans for content creators and mega uploaders like video producers, artists and business owners to name a few.

    Not everyone is a business and with sites like youtube and what not a better upload tier means less barrier to entry for those that need the upload speed.

    Yes it is a niche but still a niche still very much under addressed in my honest opinion.

    I will always wonder why we didn’t follow the rest of the world when it comes to keeping up with the infrastructure.

    Ah well always the slow slowing down the fast.

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