NBN Installation Unacceptable

When the NBN installs the cable, or fixed wireless etc is there any obligation to perform the work in a manner that does not unreasonably detract from the appearance of your property?

The NBN contractor has just commenced installing the connection to my townhouse. HFC to a central box then cabled to 5 separate properties. The installer has screwed ugly white square ducting to the front facing facade of each property, looped between each in flexible round conduit.

This is clearly going to detract from the appearance of each property. Does the NBN need to be so inconsiderate?

It appears worse when the cabling could have been run in a similar manner on the opposite side of the buildings. The duct could also have been mounted underneath the overhanging ground floor eaves instead of being exposed to the weather where it is now being attached. On speaking with the installer concerning this, he advised that he had contacted his supervision with a similar suggestion. It made sense and would have been simpler for his task. The answer was a negative, he was to follow the design.

So does the NBN have a responsibility to act in a workman like manner and is there a solution to this? The NBN website suggests that if you don’t accept their design you will cause a delay in the install, be liable for the redesign and uncertain extra costs to come back later, and be without phone etc once they turn that off?

It appears you have no choice or access to remedy. Have our consumer rights been extinguished here?

Yes I will contact the NBN, having failed to find a one on one solution. However I risk causing immense discomfort to the other four owners, who may or may not see my view point on the result.


The references on this page might be useful if the NBNCo is not receptive to rectifying what truly sounds like a nasty bit of ‘design’ work.



Thank you, this will no doubt be useful in the near future.

I have managed to entice a response from the NBN Co to my on line complaint I emailed them on Easter Sunday afternoon. It’s good to know they have an online support centre that works through Easter. They have asked for some photos to check the work against specification.

I have indicated I can provide and requested the NBN Co provide a copy of the relevant specification so that I know which details to photo. I have a copy of the electrical design which is only the cabling and technical details for the install.

There are no concise details in that document relating to the physical standards for the installation or precise location of the cable runs. I half expect a reply saying the install satisfies the electrical design technical details. IE Specification of cable length, type and termination etc. All else remains silent except for the general cable route which I understand was picked from an aerial photo.

The ACMA does have some clear recommendations. The key one is customers should address the issue through your RSP and not the NBN Co. This is a little confusing as the general issues the ACMA lists as it’s responsibility appear to relate to exclude the external cable works. It would appear that the NBN Co is not accountable to the ACMA!

Is the NBN Co accountable to anyone eg. Telstra for any external work carried out on the premises or is it like the pink bats where it was the Prime Minister?

I remain amazed that the NBN Co will not act on the observation of it’s installer that the suggested location of the on property cable runs could be done more easily using a different entry point and without changing the basic electrical design including cable lengths. Some may have even been shorter. The critical from street to building cable run remains unchanged with the alternative suggested.

I’ll add some pics to this thread in the next day. And update with what the NBN Co does next.


My property was in the original too hard basket and NBNCo had a marginal understanding of this estate. I flagged it early on when we received the original notices of installation, technology, and so on.

I found them to be quite engaging and responsive. I still do not have a cable to my house (supposed to happen this month, 9 months after the first round). Issues included all utilities being underground, and the runs to my property go under a concrete drive that abuts a brick wall that is ‘blind’ inside. If they put their box there the only way into the house would be a run up the wall into the roof space and back down.

I have since had 3 visits from supervisors and crew to have a look, and they have agreed on a location that works for the property. We’ll see how reality goes but to date it has been reassuring they have listened.

FWIW the installation crew would probably neither have nor been able to go back to NBN to ask about approving your alternative. They would likely have only been able to go to their local management who want the lowest costs / highest profit / least effort for their contract with NBNCo. Time and materials both cost so it is probably on the contractor not NBNCo although I might be proven wrong.

I look forward to the photos and hope your issue gets resolved to satisfaction.


This quite often happens with government/major contracts. Even though the cost of installation may have seen to be cheaper. when one adds up the additional design, records and approval from the sponsor (NBN), the costs are far from cheaper. The contractor would also have to request a variation from NBN which may be a drawn out process, especially if the new installation does not follow a standard design.

What would have been a better approach is the landowner being consulted during the design phase (which is supposed to happen - refer the NBN website below) rather than the contractor taking the liberty to make assumptions about what is acceptable from a landowner perspective.

Also information about HFC installations can be found here:



NBNCo do have a responsibility to all RSPs including Telstra this is called the Wholesale Broadband Agreement (WBA). Telstra and so on can get payments when NBNCo fails on delivery timeframes and performance levels, NBNCo are also responsible to the TIO, Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) and the Minister. Certainly you could contact all those parties about your issue and you may get some response but getting a fix is not likely.

But this responsibility is not really about aesthetics and that is the problem you are facing. You are supposed to be able to negotiate with the installer but if they determine it is unsuitable they will fit as per their standards, which may be an unpleasant appearance but meets the requirements.

You could seek to have it re-cabled at your cost by a licenced cable installer but they can only do certain works as NBNCo typically own and control the cable to the first socket in your house. You would need to have your installer inspect and advise you what they can legally do.


IMO this is merely yet more evidence, as if any more was needed, of the severe craptitude of the entire NBN debacle. Once again, citizens / consumers come last, functionality & aesthetically.


If only the NBN provided notice of the day they will be on your property. Perhaps the critical point is that unlike any other trade work you get done the NBN Co has chosen not to put in place a reliable two way communication with each property owner. How hard could that be to have done either directly or through my current provider?

The pics following show it is still a work in progress. It’s easy for many of us to see this as a minor issue, but then most NBN customers don’t have the cable entry screwed across the front of their property. If they did the NBN Co would not get away with it. Would you let me come and nail plastic duct work over the front of your house? Of course not.

Irrespective of the look, there are some more critical points.

I’ve also pointed out to the NBN Co some alternative entry points.

The current design will result in a non-standard install for the next stage, assuming the NBN Co terminate on the external beam per pics. This is definitely not on the front wall per what I have read is the requirement on their web site. I don’t relish ripping out the plaster board in the front foyer area to complete the internal cabling or screwing conduit to the ceiling to get the cable 10m across the room to a power point. My electrician previously advised he could not install a powered smoke alarm at the front door.unless I took out some of the ceiling to permit access. Approx 6m away and closer to the incoming cable run there is a location where the NBN Co could terminate their cable and enable a direct penetration, a standard install and 3m across the room is a 240v GPO. And it’s not in the front entry!

The only possible upside is HFC is supposedly far superior to the FTN solution and has a greater upside for future speed upgrades without recabling.

Anyway you might enjoy the attached pics.


Oh I wasn’t in anyway trying to say what they are doing is right. I support your stand and have written to the NBNCo about these issues previously.

The difficulty is what they are required to do is different to what we want them to do. The standard of fitout is poor for a number of users out there. If like us the supply is underground to the premises and internally is fitted to the area we wanted it is ok. But when it goes wrong it can be terrible.

The NBNCo and the parties it is responsible to are so separate from our reality it is difficult for them to even appreciate our concerns. Why else do we have FTTN being paraded as a success and superior service. I suggest you do lodge feedback/complaints about your issues with the various parties and some of the work appears to fall outside even the NBNCo’s required parameters.

This is the preferred placement, particularly as if in future they need access to the cabling for any reason but it can be changed. For your perusal read the following:


As you can see the placement is subject to possible negotiation depending on what is currently in place at the property eg if conduit to the premises is already in place and is usable.


That’s not at all surprising, sadly - but it is disgusting. I feel if it were my residence there would be a short window for negotiation followed by the the offer of assistance in vacating my property until such time as a professionally trained cabler can be located.


I’ll update this in a few days when they finish and have the external splitter and terminations complete.

I have been able to arrange with the sub-contractor to remove the ducting from the front of my deck. By replacing it with a short 1.2m duct on my firewall the NTD box will be located where there is a direct wall penetration and nearby power in a corner of the front room. Six metres less cable run too. Lucky Think I!

There is a lot wrong with the rest of the work on the adjacent townhouses, however I dare not interfere. I can however see how it could have been done even on the NBN Co chosen access with less ducting and cable. I now wonder how many other similar examples of waste there are and how much it will add to the NBN debt. I also wonder about the business contacting model, it’s efficiency and what incentives if any there are for in this instance the overseeing contractor Downer to deliver real cost savings. If they are reimbursed on a linear metre based rate or percentage of costs then more is better, providing you can also deliver on any other core kpi’s such as safety and completion rates. It would be enlightening to be able to see what the true performance or cost efficiency of each phase of the NBN is, however it hides behind “commercial in confidence”. As consumers this appears to be a much greater exercise in trust than even the ‘Pink Batts’ tradgedy/saga.

Ps, my friendly NBN Co subcontractor sent a t/a and 1st year apprentice to do the core of the work with minimal supervision. They were short materials having to collect just what they needed on a daily basis from a wholesaler. Back again in a few days perhaps to do a bit more. I can’t say any more. Yes - I can, if the two younger guys doing the work were looking for a trade career I’d give them a go because left as they are it can’t be very satisfying knowning second rate is good enough. I hope I have not strayed too far from adding to consumer knowledge.


Unfortunately Mark you have struck one of the pitfalls of the NBN installation process - the customer experience is highly reliant on the attitude of the local install contractors used by the retailers. When we had the NBN installed here they arrived a few days before to check that the scheduled install day was suitable, and described what he planned to do. He also asked us where we would like the NBN box and took photos with his phone. He had already contacted the sparky who wired our house as to where the underground cable runs were and to check if the ducting was suitable to also run the fibre through. Installation was quick, painless and done to our requirements but I am under no illusion that our situation is standard for the nation unfortunately. We were lucky that our installation was done by the NBN Co crew who were in the area doing backbone work in the town. They did tell us though that they didn’t do many residential installs normally, but every so often if they were in a town laying the backbone and there were a few installs scheduled then they got the call for them, instead of local contractors (cheaper for ISP’s I guess).

NBN Co workers run the backbone installations. For the majority of domestic and business installations it is down to individual contractors who don’t really have a standard practice. This can change in some regional areas where the NBN crew are also the retail installers whilst they are doing a town install as I stated above. Due to the nature of the operation there also does not seem to be much meaningful competition involved to improve the standards either. As an end user you cannot choose your installer, it is the retailer who organises this on your behalf.

Naturally this brings into play the problems inherent with these types of setups. Optus, Telstra, etc. only concern as to who does their installs is how much they charge and if they can get the installs done in specific time frames. They couldn’t care less if you found the installer nice, or whether they listened to your needs for the install. They just want to know you are connected as quick as possible and that they can start billing you.

To future-proof it to a certain extent and do the thing properly it should have been FTTP wherever possible. NBN Co should have been an entity of it’s own, including retailer to the end user. It should do all installs from backbone to the end user. It should have been looked on by government as an investment not a cost, due to it’s importance especially in regional areas. It’s been used as a point scoring exercise far too often, as it is infrastructure not entertainment (although it can be used for such). It’s our current Prime Minister and Minister For Changing his Mind/Ideologies who gave us this Irish Stew version of NBN - throw in a bit of everything and see what comes out the other side. Shame our current teenagers will have to spend another few billion on it when they come to power to upgrade it!


I complained about the installation at my house and was told by the ‘man with the clipboard’ that it was acceptable. I am DIY weekend handyman bit I could not have walked away form the job the way it is. They were in no hurry, had all the time in the world and came back 3 times to get it done.


My experience was similar to ‘obbigttam’. The installers were in our street so I approached them to ask about the installation (HFC) on my property as there were complications due to the install having to be underground due to tree canopy and house arrangement towards the back on an upward sloping block preventing above ground installation. The supervisor of the team came and had a look, asked which side of the house I wanted the install to be done (they were originally going to install on the bedroom side which would have resulted in a complicated and very unsatisfactory internal connection), discussed issue of underground power location, subsurface rock, location of storm water drains, best route to run the underground cable as the existing phone line ran in 1950’s steel pipe, where to place the external connection box to be near internal power in the lounge room and took photos. I came home the next evening and I am very satisfied that everything was done as agreed. I suspect I was very lucky in getting a team that listened to the needs of the property owners and lived in a street where about half the installs had to be underground.


I was satisfied with our installation. I was not happy with the original suggested installation site on the front wall of our rustic bluestone house and requested it be moved around a corner and under the eaves, out of the main sightline. The technician was initially a bit iffy but I smiled nicely and he was eventually persuaded. He did a good job, even running several extra metres of cabling and tacking it neatly behind the fascia boards. Guess it depends on the installer at the time…


You will see an earlier post from ages ago by me of a horrible nbn installation. it was nothing but a big headache and they could not get it to even work. they came back 5 times. you got to keep at them and dont settle for anything. they have to meet your standards not you theirs. its your property and they should be privileged you are a customer. they also tried to put a cord right across my lounge room in the middle of the floor. not on. i made them come and change it. and the first technician was rude and couldn’t care less attitude. i made a big fuss. thats the only way they will listen to you unfortunately. horrible horrible service.


For the positives and other feedback so far: Thank you all.

I at least now think I know what went wrong and what the NBN needs to change. Any right of access under legislation should not confer that right to be without a mutual obligation to inform and agree reasonably to when this occurs.

It appears that if you are at home when the NBN external installer turns up you have the possibility of a positive experience.

That there is NO AGREED PROCEDURE for “Notification and reasonable agreement to an access date” is clear from the prior comments including - [quote=“iam_61, post:14, topic:15309”]
The installers were in our street so I approached them to ask about the installation (HFC) on my property

If one does exist - this did not happen for us! It was blind luck I drove in when I did from being interstate for a few days. The day before Good Friday and my son was already long gone on a holiday.

The NBN goes to a lot of trouble to prepare an electrical design for each site. Surely they have enough information through our RSP’s billing details to mail or TXT or phone or email moths prior to confirm a reliable contact for each premise. And to at least with reasonable notice advise the date for they will turn up. There is also a record for each property in respect of the owner through the rates and property valuation at local and state level.

ps And I too did catch an NBN Contractor’s supervisor about 8 weeks prior as he was about to drive off from our front car park. He was happy to discuss the design and indicated that the Installer would assess the best route on the day including identifying where to install the external service connection points. I should wait till they arrived to discuss! Thankyou Mr Downer. I now take that as a “best endeavors” discussion on Downer’s behalf - but not one that reflected reality. Clearly the experience of others has been the NBN contractors are able to adapt the on property installation route to suit on the day!


Mark, one thing I neglected to mention in my original reply was that the previous day to me speaking to the NBN crew, one of them knocked on our door and spoke to my wife to let us know they’d be doing the install during the week. I would hope this is part of the process that all NBN installers have to follow, though I wouldn’t hold my breath about it. However, given the high probability that no one would be home due to modern working families, I think there should be an alternate way of having the discussion about installation routes.

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Reading this thread just makes me slump further into my seat. This megacrap fraudband debacle, thus abbott & trumble, have so much for which to answer. Josephine Citizen’s options:

  1. Have the IT-misfortune to live in a deemed-remote locale, & be consigned to the satellite nightmare.
  2. Live in an HFC-serviced area, & have your NBN indefinitely postponed coz the genii failed to sort out the bugs.
  3. Live in a FTTN area & remain at the mercy of ancient subterranean copper with all its negative effects on her bandwidth & reliability.
  4. Live in a FTTP area & be at the mercy of random uncaring mercenary installers disinterested in domestic aesthetics & best practice, as the price to pay for the “privilege” of possibly achieving a 100/40 service.

Oz, the stupid country.


I can add that the NBN supervising contractor’s rep met with me on Monday afternoon. The entire cable run for our small lot of five townhouses is now being relocated to a more satisfactory outcome. The works completed initially were not per the NBN design. This was separate to concerns relating to the appearance or entry points I’d raised.

The NBN co does have an online email and phone service for seeking contact re complaints or issues. In my instance it has been effective.

In the instance the NBN is doing an install on a multi-dwelling property the NBN will initially contact the Body Coroprate. It appears that after that first contact if there is no response from the Body Corporate the NBN will proceed. NBN Co does not require any further approval. NBN Co does not seek direct contact with each of the service owners. It would have been much better if our Body Corporate (which pays for a professional management service) had engaged with the NBN and owners prior to the first stages of the NBN works. Alternately the advice that each owner need to negotiate separately with the NBN Co. Key to understanding is our townhouses stand alone on their own land title, with the Body Corporate responsible for primarily the surrounding common property. The NBN Co and I have discussed that aspect. It’s not worth my time to argue. The verbal response suggests the NBN could legally run the service to your neighbour by first nailing it to the front facade of your house before taking it across the fence to your neighbour. Yuo