CHOICE membership

The "Never Never Broadband Network" - NBN complaints



My wife’s sister and her husband live near Mareeba and ADSL was never available in their area so they had an Activ8 satellite broadband service which was slower than death warmed up.

As the fixed NBN network will not be available in their area, NBN replaced the Activ8 satellite service with their satellite service which was no better.

They have now replaced it with fixed wireless which works great for them.

When we visited them a fortnight ago, I ran Speedtest and the download speed was around 12mbps.

It is pretty good considering that even out in their yard there is hardly any Telstra mobile signal.


Yes, there are customers who have gained access or better access through the NBN roll out. The external aerial and receiver for the FW service is far superior to the average mobile phone providing you have that vital line of sight to the tower. There remains the more serious question of future suitability?

There are the 75 potential rural customers outside of town around us. 20+ of us have ADSL2+ between 12-16Mbps download. Some of us might consider FW at 12Mbps a backward step. The rest between 2km and 5km from the exchange may have a different view?

The harsh reality is that the 4 pair Telstra Copper cable that terminates in the pit out front is on its last legs. It services 3 properties, with the one spare used to replace a line that cannot even support a phone conversation due to noise. It’s also the end of line for our road!

If one more pair fails what next? This must be an Australia wide question for many on old copper and FTTN?

Who pays to replace the copper and with what?


Had Telstra retained ownership of their copper network, then it would have been their responsibility to fix it.

But as the Government chose to take over the copper network to facilitate the rollout of the NBN, then they should either fix it or provide an acceptable alternative.


Had the network never been privatised …
We’re suffering the effects of a series of foul-ups and betrayals. We are where we are; where do we want to go and how do we get there?

Meanwhile, another avenue opens up:

No, I don’t believe this will compete with land-lines, nor even with fixed wireless or mobile. Depending on economics and performance, Sky Muster might be in for a bit of competition though. On the ohter hand, there’s nothing stopping NBN Co replacing the geosynchronous satellites with microsats, when the time comes.


The boss is defiant. Perhaps he needs a new direction.

I’ve seen some excellent arguments that the nation would benefit if access to the NBN was free (that is, no charge to the user). Of course, that would rule out privatisation.


I keep thinking that the true cost to the NBN per customer is largely independent of the speed tier or data consumed. This of course excludes satellite and Fixed Wireless.

The NBN simply acts as a conduit or switch for the RSP to customer relationship. The primary conduit is fibre with many times the capacity of the paltry copper or capped speeds to the gate.

The major initial cost to the NBN is the cost of providing a service to each premise and connecting each customer. IE a fixed capital cost.


Does it?

Costs vary between technologies. None of the NBN technologies costs substantially more to run at capacity than at idle.

Capital and running costs are largely fixed. The more that is transmitted, the lower the share of that fixed cost is attributable to each megabyte. The less the network is used, the greater the cost of each megabyte transmitted.

It therefore makes sense to maximise use of the network. User pays does not maximise use of the network. Paying network costs any other way would cause a Totalitarian Capitalist hissy-fit. Our problem is therefore not technology or economics, it’s Capitalists.


There is a distinct difference between the fixed line services and NBN Satellite/Wireless.

The latter are constrained by absolute capacity. You can keep adding customers at a marginal cost even if the system cannot deliver the service at the level being paid for. Notably the cost of access to these and the service delivered is not favourably comparable to the fixed line options, except perhaps the 12Mbps FTTN plans in some circumstances.

The goals of the NBN Co are not stated in these terms. They are more about delivery of approx 8 million customers from 11.9M premises passed from less than $55B of expenditure by June 2020.

For the fixed line service customers their data plans are unlimited or close to it relative to needs. The only differential is connection speed. NBN Co’s Cost recovery model is based on per customer and what percentage of the ultimate capacity of the system each customer can utilise. Yes it gets converted to a CVC charge on each RSP.

Using more data does not decrease your monthly broadband bill.
Making data cheaper is unlikely to encourage customers to upgrade to a more expensive plan! It’s counter intuitive and would enable existing plans to be sold for less?

Except for those on satellite or FW every premise the NBN passes with fixed line will either connect, or ignore it and use a mobile provider. It used to be $30 for line rental with Telstra plus calls or $60pm with all calls included. Or for $70pm you also get 100Mb data at 25Mbps. The NBN cares more that you connect than if you take data or not based on this. It is all about adding customers and ensuring a large enough base cost recovery per premise to aid in cash flow and support the future market price.


Both form parts of the whole. Choice of technology is a network design decision.

Which is why choice of technology is a factor. You’re assuming that the user is paying directly (ie. user pays). As I said, Totalitarian Capitalists would throw a tantrum at any other model, but it’s sub-optimal.

That’s politics for you.

Nor does it increase the cost of running the network.


He may yet… rue this defiance.

And this is also why it should be fibre-optic throughout - you have the bandwidth for all users, and probably for the rest of this century.


The sad reality is unrelated to the NBN per se, it is related to the fact we have a centre right political party and a right political party as the viable alternatives. I really like independents, but that is not the topic.

With what we have to chose from, each worships free market capitalism, American style. Historically one will always find exceptions but this is a general, cultural statement; the US governments do not nor have owned infrastructure with the exception of building certain roads as well as their interstate highway system. The networks are private enterprise as are utilities and healthcare.

As we blindly follow along where government wants to take us, it is the same direction the Americans have gone. What has to be good for a country of 330 million must be good for us with 25 million, distributed across the same area as those 330 million.

I fear without a major political shake-up it will not end any differently than the US where it is all dog eat dog private enterprise, I’m all right so what is your problem? Once the NBN is sold off to private enterprise only then can anything different happen to what we see, because the coalition is welded onto doing the wrong thing to sell it off at all costs, and the ALP could not politically survive stopping it in place and starting again because of Tony Abbott style attacks.

If private enterprise decides to fix it, we will pay again and forever as that is what business is about.


I do have to correct the historical inaccuracies here. The US government built enormous projects, including the interstate highways system, dams, the Internet, the transistor… I read recently that Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books about her Little House on the Prairie were edited by her daughter - an Ayn Rand acolyte who despised FDR’s ‘New Deal’ and removed all references to the government help settlers like Wilder received.

Unfortunately, power has become concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, and so a few have become wealthy beyond imagining from government largesse while many starve. Australia seems intent on following this lead, which is ultimately going to be self-defeating. There is no point owning large companies whose products most consumers cannot afford - and this is the ultimate end for ‘free markets’ in opposition to democracy.

Yes, both of our major political parties are now to the right of centre. They have decided that voters matter less than ‘contributors’, in a system that anywhere other than that of politics would be considered bribery. The only hope is independents, but unfortunately they are currently too easily derailed by party machinations (such as Abbott’s attack-dog tactics with Pauline Hanson in her first go-around, landing her in jail - while the Liberal Party stole most of her platform). Additionally, most independents who manage to survive are like Hanson (and Trump), populists. They are not capable of identifying the problems of unfettered capitalism, let alone addressing them.


… I thought they had just moved ‘the centre’ - oh, and the edges, and flipped it, turned it inside out, stretched some, distorted the rest, and washed it all in ammonia …


I think I mentioned highways, I admit I missed the dams, the internet as we know it was not US government although DARPANet was it predecessor (and I was a user!). Does the US government operate it these days? (no need to answer)

You can split whatever hairs you wish in the name of absolute accuracy. My education of the day is that you assign transistors as infrastructure and AT&T Bell Labs had nought to do with them but the US government gets your gong?.

Wilkie, maybe McGowan, and Muir (although aligned with a minor party) are the typers I meant. And I agree that their tenures are fragile for the reasons you cite.

We can disagree quite strongly on your first premise, while agreeing on the second since they are indeed ‘not government’ nor will be.


The Internet is based on government work - no private company would ever have invested in such a project. The government work came from several countries, and in part was done through universities, but the Internet would not exist without the massive funding it received from the US government - which still controls some parts of it, to the detriment of us all.

My first premise was referring specifically to populists. Yes, Wilkie has been a true independent, as have some others. I’m not entirely sure who Muir is, and I don’t know how the other independents tend to vote. I do know that my electorate is unlikely to elect an independent any time soon… more’s the pity.


At the time, true. Who knows how it could have eventuated? The internet as we know it was the work of Europeans, not the US. Remember Mosaic? The US worried about defence, not much more.

Funny, that sounds like the NBN project. Let the government fund it and give it to private enterprise. Eh?

Google should be your friend by now. A bit about Ricky Muir.


I’ve just received my first individual results from Honesty Box, and apparently my internet connection is better than 44.4% of other Australians on nbn satellite 25/5. I guess this means it is worse than 55.6% of Aussies on this speed plan on satellite!

“Your connection scored 58.57 points” … I’m not sure what that means.
They say this is 17% better than last month.

Av download 13.8Mbps, av upload 3.6Mbps, av latency 655ms.

From the graph presented, it appears that all the Oct tests were done in the fist and last weeks of the month, with nothing in the middle fortnight.

EDIT- just attempted a speedtest, it failed. Strangely Speedtest doesn’t think “It’s raining” is a valid reason for failure!


Well your download and upload speeds are better than mine - I’m still on ADSL2+, my speeds are 7.01Mbps (which is the fastest I’ve seen) and 0.82Mbps. Latency, though - I hope you’re not an avid online gamer.


I agree with @postulative, that’s better than my ADSL 2+ too (800m as the crow flies from the exchange, or 1.2km wire-wise).

I get around 8Mbps av down and .8Mbps up. My ping is usually good at around 50ms.


I just found this map site, which may be useful for checking on NBN outages.