NBN Co has suggested a lot of ideas as of late and approximately zero of them have been good news for the average internet user. (Observe the evidence here, here and here.) This time it's floating plans to remove a faster uplink option for Australian consumers. Oh dear.
Despite promises last year to break internet connection Catch-22s, telcos are not rolling back to legacy services in the case of a failed NBN installation. This has left affected customers unable to join NBN or ADSL services, effectively stranding them without internet of any kind.
NBN Co has allegedly floated a new plan to introduce 100/40-megabit plans for businesses only, cutting off consumers from juicy uplink speeds, according to ITNews.
Instead, it is proposing a 110/20-megabit plan for residential users while the 100/40-megabit uplink speed would be reserved for commercial users.
NBN Co general manager Ken Walliss told ITNews he believed the higher uplink speeds were underutilised by residential customers.
"We've identified that residential customers tend not to use the 40Mbps upload speed on the current 100/40, so to provision a service of these dimensions adds costs from a wholesale and retail point of view," Walliss said to ITNews.
At this stage, it's unclear whether current users would need to migrate to the 110/20 plan or if they'd be allowed to continue on the 100/40 plan for the foreseeable future. Lifehacker Australia has reached out to NBN Co to confirm the reports and what the transition plan would be for existing customers on this plan. We'll update when we receive a response.
It's important to note, however, that NBN Co doesn't set the price for ISPs. Instead, it floats ideas with providers and provides the necessary infrastructure to make it happen.
A few months ago, NBN Co suggested ISP providers offer a 110/20-megabit plan at a reduced price in order to encourage uptake of higher speed broadband plans but this plan would coexist with the original 100/40, it was understood at the time.
Around 160 million devices in Australia are connected to the NBN with 62 per cent of homes and businesses on a 50-megabit wholesale speed plan or more, according to NBN Co. As of May 2019, more than 10 million homes and businesses are able to connect to the network now.
But internet speeds in Australia still haven't been a great selling point for the nation. We currently sit in 57th place for broadband speeds, according to Ookla's Speedtest, behind countries like Barbados (21st), Panama (32nd) and Belarus (54th).
In stark contrast to our failing broadband speeds, Australia is ranked fourth for mobile data speeds, averaging 63-megabits download speed with around 16-megabits in upload speed. We've stayed in the top 10 for global mobile speeds for the past 12 months while our broadband speeds have yet to crack the top 50.
Update: NBN Co responded to Lifehacker with the following statement:
In the consultation paper, we sought feedback on the possible development of a new residential-focussed lower cost AVC speed tier offering 110 Mbps downstream and 20 Mbps upstream. We’ve identified that residential customers tend not to use the 40Mbps upload speed on the current 100/40, so to provision a service of these dimensions adds costs from a wholesale and retail point of view.
The downstream 110 Mbps is set as a wholesale speed tier offer. There is typically some bandwidth lost between the wholesale and retail service. Ultimately it would be intended to support a downstream 100 Mbps retail offer.
If a 110/20Mpbs AVC speed tier were to be developed, we also asked Retail Service Providers (RSPS) for feedback on the potential of the existing 100/40 Mbps AVC speed tier being focused more on business customers. There are no proposals in the paper about customer restrictions, and ultimately it’s up to RSPs to purchase any available nbn offer to construct their retail offerings to supply products to business and residential customers.
The NBN has never been popular with everyday Australians because many have found it unreliable and overpriced. What's more surprising is that Australia's biggest telco, Telstra, also isn't too fond of the network and has announced it's going to try and make pricing better for everyone.