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Wednesday, 21 February 2018 11:33

Speed issues? It ain't us that's to blame, says NBN Co


The NBN Co is well known for doing what Pontius Pilate did – washing its hands of any responsibility for the shabby network that it has built so far. Today, it has unveiled another instalment in this exercise.

The latest bid to evade responsibility when the network begins to resemble treacle on a cold day begins on an entirely different note, with NBN Co chief technology office Ray Owen writing: "Many end users on the NBN Co broadband access network like to conduct speed tests to see how fast their connection is performing – but are these speed tests really a good indicator of what speeds you are getting?"

This is deceptive in the extreme as the blog post soon degenerates into the "we are not responsible for poor speeds" mantra that we have heard over and over again over the last two or three years.

Owen says that speed tests may be a great way to troubleshoot any connectivity issues and also good "to inform any conversations you might be having with your retailer about a) your connection and b) what your needs might be for more or less speed".

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But there, apparently, the usefulness of a speed test ends. Owen has a more important point to make: "...speed tests are not good at giving you a full picture of your service as there are many different variables that affect your service".

He claims there are eight different links in the chain that carry the service to the end-user and "As you might expect, NBN Co does not have control over all of these and neither does your retail service provider".

speed info graphic

The graphic that the NBN Co uses to try and evade responsibility for the slow network.

To make his point clear, Owen names a few well-known names: "Some of the other very crucial parts of this supply chain include retailers such as Telstra, Vocus and Optus, browsers’ international links, website providers such as Google, and content providers such as Netflix, to name but a few."

Just to hint that this is not an exercise in disclaiming responsibility for the magic-mushroom network that it has built, Owen says the company plans to disclose the congestion status of the network, same as New Zealand's Chorus does.

But the gist of what he has to say is this (and it is highlighted in order that everyone can see it): "The plain fact of the matter is that NBN Co controls and maintains a very narrow portion of the overall Internet experience. We provide a service to your RSP. And we strive every day to ensure that the NBN Co access network made available to your retail service provider is as congestion-free as possible."

So, when your service fouls up and you are cursing under your breath as you wait for audio and video to sync on that YouTube clip you are watching, just remember: the NBN Co is not to blame. It is as blemishless as a sacrificial lamb.

Graphic: courtesy NBN Co

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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