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The "Never Never Broadband Network" - NBN complaints



Hi all,

This has become one of our long, ongoing megathreads that has proven to be ripe terrain for discussion. However, it’s also quite long and might be getting hard to track.

I thought I would throw out the below pole to see whether people would rather continue collecting NBN complaints here or to endeavor to start new threads. We can always encourage new NBN thread either way, but I would be interested to hear the Community’s preference.

  • Time to close this thread, it’s become too long and hard to follow.
  • Keep the thread open, it’s useful for collecting news and ongoing discussion.

0 voters


Suggestions for new NBN threads:

  • ordering & installation experiences (problems, solutions, …)
  • experiences after installation (problems, solutions, …)
  • discussion of technologies (capabilities, developments, telecommunications standards, equipment, …)
  • politicians and NBN
  • regulation & monitoring of NBN and telecommunications (eg ACCC, ACAN, …)


Considering the NBN in narrower and potentially more accessible topics appeals. It may make it easier to select the most relevant content and advice.

From a recent look at the NBN rollout maps the areas most lagging appear to include regional FW coverage gaps, as well as large portions of the inner suburbs of some of our big cities. Eg Brisbane (Ashgrove, Paddington, Redhill), Sydney (Redfern), Melbourne.

The issues around access in the regional FW access areas may make a separate topic as might those issues around Satellite services. For the inner city it appears mainly that the areas held up are those with the HFC rollout upgrades. This is very different in it’s technical issues to those of the previous two suggestions.

It would be great to focus topics particular to each of these technologies.

Per @vombatis suggestions, discussion around the quality of the overall solution to date and future options is worthwhile with their own space, as is the state of play within the government and legislative considerations.


When the 2015 design rules were first released, an acquaintance who’s in the telecommunications industry commented that, by the time we’ve made the Multi-technology mess, cleaned it up and built what we need, we’ll have spent the better part of $200 billion. I’ve since seen that number repeated elsewhere. Presumably someone’s done some back-of-envelope calculations and come up with a figure that’s somewhat credible.

One other point was that, while we’re mucking about, we’ll miss a few decades of opportunities. That will probably cost us more than $200 billion.

It’s a difficult message to sell. Fixing the damage will not be cheap. Whichever side comes up with a solution will be met with the other going ape for political advantage.


I have seen figures from some (whom I trust a fair deal) that put the losses in the trillions, this is both the build and maintenance cost of the MTM and whatever fixes they do but also the economic losses to our nation (this includes costs to Govts, costs to businesses, and costs to families and individuals). Some of these losses will not be readily translated to dollars eg deaths due to poor health support but there are figures used that “estimate” the dollar value. I suspect the Govt doesn’t really care about the costs not directly borne by them as long as they have enough coming in to feed the coffers they control.

Sorry for the more political twist to these issues and I will refrain as much as possible from further debate in that area.


Perhaps this story was the inspiration for the NBN.


The flight of the R101 Airship @Fred123, is perhaps not the best analogy. If it was inspirational then one lesson learnt would be to have no NBN at all because things can go wrong? Let’s not change at all.

Noted 48 of the 54 men on board died in the crash of R101. Perhaps the real lesson from the loss of R101 was that the Hindenburg should never have been built?

The subsequent cancellation and scraping of the Airship project by GB says that no one was happy with the outcome. That may not be the same for the NBN?

Irrespective of the technology choice discussion, on the NBN we hear most about the exceptions and complaints. Yes, there are many more issues than desirable. I suspect for the moment there are many more silent NBN customers who are satisfied with today’s service than those who are voicing dissatisfaction. The noisy minority?

It’s one discussion to seek resolution of immediate problems with connection or the exisiting service delivering to design. It’s a very different discussion to consider the technology choices and their potential future impacts including cost benefit.


The political twist is not your creation, so nothing for which you should apologise. Certain politicians owe taxpayers some enormous apologies for this mess, which they thought would be useful as a political toy.

The lesson of R101, the Hindenburg, and similar dirigibles is “don’t fill big balloons with flammable gases!”

Of course, most powered flight still relies upon highly flammable materials, but it is much better stored and protected than the hydrogen gas used in most dirigibles.

While I wasn’t born at the time (and thus my perception is only of these events as history), I certainly haven’t seen a lot of news reports condemning the delays in building the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme, or the Sydney Harbour Bridge, or the Sydney Opera House. These were all major taxpayer-funded programs, but they were not turned into political footballs for the sake of a few votes. The Snowy Mountains Scheme, for instance, took 25 years to build and cost 121 lives - how many installers of pink batts died, again? There was no Royal Commission into the magnitude-larger death toll of the former project; it was not seen as part of some ‘game’ being played with our taxes.


Not from what I see and hear. The vast majority seem to be putting up with an unsatisfactory situation, IMO.

Absent the changes, that might be valid. Given the changes, it isn’t.

The Conservative government made changes that seem calculated to cripple the NBN. In that, they were successful. What they’ve built with our funds is largely impossible to fix. Our only remedy is tear-down (or dig up) and rebuild.


You would perhaps need to look at the complaints against population to see what percentage are in a majority. I do think that a significant portion of the population are putting up with what they see as an inferior outcome but as to a majority? I think that is perhaps a stretch too far but I accept that I may be wrong as I do not have ready access to that information. If a person had less than 6 Mbps pre NBN but now have 12 or 25 they may currently think that’s Bees Knees and in the future they may see that as abysmal, as for sure one thing is certain our need for speed is not some stagnant amount but is rising all the time. What some know is that the system we have will not be able to keep up with that rising demand but until a person is bitten they don’t scratch.


Which is really the point - or part of it. There will always be some who get the rough end of the pineapple. They matter, no matter how few they may be.

The volume of complaints indicates that the MTM is a major foul-up. FttP might have been a disaster too. We’ll never know (though I’ve heard very few complaints from the lucky ones who are served by that technology).

There really should be a Royal Commission. Whether Labor will spend money on what will look like a witch-hunt (TURC, anyone?), only time will tell.


Seriously? After the pink batts RC and the unions RC, are we going to have every new government investigate the actions of the previous government? If so, I can think of plenty of issues that most Australians would find more important if scheduling a Royal Commission - like climate change, the effects of capitalism on democracy, the abysmal way we treat our unemployed, who sets the ‘desired’ unemployment rate and why…

We already know exactly what went wrong with the NBN, and how to fix it!


Do we though?

What has been done, exactly? Has a crime or crimes been committed? I certainly feel as though the nature of the behaviour in question is criminal.


It would be useful to have some hard data. Aside from the NBN’s own reporting there is our Choice internet service provider survey.

The satisfaction level for all the surveyed RSPs includes service reliability and speed components. If there was a general widespread level of dissatisfaction this is one source of independent data that should reflect the general level of acceptance vs complaint?

An alternate source and not as recent, survey. It suggests 34% of their sample would switch back. Most because the old service was faster. This suggests few of them would have been on ADSL type services previously. ADSL2+ does not for most users get anywhere close to typical NBN speeds.

Not absolute data, it provides a snapshot of one group of users. It comes with what may be a bias towards customers previously on Telstra or Optus cable services. Most cable customers were well served by the prior commercial rollout to selected parts of the major cities. The report does not calrifying if these customers would also prefer to go back to a competitive non government run internet service?

It’s likely both major political parties already know the answer here. They have their own surveys and may have already ranked the NBN related issues against consumer (voter) sentiment. They appear a long way down the list at present?


The only potential crimes committed by the architects would be misappropriation of public monies - but as all relevant spending bills were passed by Parliament, this didn’t occur. There is no crime of ‘lying in Parliament’, or half of our representatives would be found guilty of it.

It is possible but unlikely that crimes may have been committed by those working for NBN Co. One example: lying to a Parliamentary committee (Contempt of Parliament); another would be attempting to influence witnesses before a Parliamentary committee through actions, threats, inducements etc. (Parliamentary Privileges Act 1987). Both of these are discussed under section 5.2 of the Guidelines for Official Witnesses.

Would a Royal Commission identify and/or recommend further investigation into the possibility of Parliament being misled? Absolutely not - that would set a terrifying precedent for our parliamentarians and senior public servants, and would never make its way into any terms of reference for a Royal Commission.

Consumer sentiment has been absent from our politicians’ priorities for a long time now. How many people actually want metadata retention laws? How many of us support the new ‘anti-terror’ laws? How many Australians actually support keeping refugees out of sight and hopefully out of mind? Do many Australians really think that coal is the future? Hands up if you favour privatisation of monopoly infrastructure?

Our elections are fought over splinter issues in a few ‘key’ electorates. Sure our politicians know what we want - they just don’t particularly care, when it gets in the way of ‘important stakeholders’. People are beginning to wake up to this, and it is why the cross-bench is getting so large; we are sick of Tweedledum and Tweedledee, both singing the same tune when it comes to what really matters (people as opposed to money) - we don’t count because they know we are ironed on ‘believers’.


Perhaps. We were discussing this last night. None of us is a lawyer (though one has experience in state court admin). The interesting thing is what Abbott said to Turnbull early on. Their actions were later spun as getting adequate results cheaper, sooner, but Abbott’s first words are what could get him into trouble.

He’s reported to have told Turnbull to destroy the NBN (or words to that effect). Depending on what exactly was said, deliberately sabotaging vital national infrastructure might be judged an act of treason.

There are endless ifs and buts - and the question isn’t likely to be tested at law anyway - but it’s an interesting thought.


Absolutely agree!

This is an essential service/utility we are talking about.
Along with water and electricity, telecommunicaton is an essential in 21st century Australia - no matter who you are or where you live in our country.

“choosing” to have reliable “fit for purpose” telecommunicatons is not “life style” choice this day and age.


The Australian Financial Review has an article on its website titled NBN upgrade Necessary and likely with Labor government. It suggests that a Labor-driven NBN will favour FTTC over FTTN, and in some cases over HFC. It also quotes someone from Telstra stating that with video streaming demand increases only FTTP would meet that demand - especially once 8K TVs start entering the market in big numbers.

Now that Fairfax has staked its bets I’ll sit back and wait for the Murdoch response (which is probably already out - I just have their websites blocked by one of my ad blockers). (Yes, deliberately.)


While the Fin Review may be correct in it’s speculation, should the very first priority be to completing delivery of the NBN to those premises that do not have access?

Whether that is using the current MTM technology or a better option may be a concern, depending on how close premises are to having their service completed.

By mid Dec 2018 near enough to 9.3M premises are in the NBN Ready for Service (RFS) areas and 8M are Ready/able to Connect.

That’s out of a total possible 11.2M premises which would include business customers as well as residential. (Per the NBN Co this total excludes premises planned for Skymuster)

That leaves less than 2M premises to complete construction of access. Many of these may be part way through construction already. And a number may be in the too hard for now basket?

In the NBN Co 2018 Annual report it was stated 4.5M regional premises in the NBN rollout now have access. This was also noted to be 86% of all regional premises in the NBN plan. (It would appear regional to the NBN means - not a capital city?)

My rough maths suggests there are only approx 750,000 regional premises without access. Hopefully who ever forms the next Federal Parliament puts a priority on these premises ahead of any any upgrading for those who already have access. That many premises have access and have chosen not to connect may be a concern, however at least there is an option for those premises.

It’s a short coming of the Financial Review report that it does not provide context for it’s speculative crumbs. Hopefully they will be more objective in the near future?


“While the Fin Review may be correct in it’s speculation, should the very first priority be to completing delivery of the NBN to those premises that do not have access?”

Not necessarily. My street has been delayed over a year due to distance from the exchange - an additional node box is needed and the lines need to be cleaned up (copper is good but maintenance was poor with time being prioritised over doing the job properly according to the technician inspecting and advising NBN); and he said we may still not get better speeds with NBN. This paired with NBN forcing loss of the more reliable landline in a mobile grey/black spot in a high fire and storm risk area makes FTTN a dubious ‘benefit’. FTTC with reliably high speeds might be a little more welcome but the safety comprises the Government is forcing on on our community will no doubt be brought up at the next bushfires Royal Commission.