Home Telecoms & NBN VIDEO: NBN Co asks 'how much speed do you need', but little focus on gigabit

With my 4G smartphone able to offer vastly faster upload and download speeds than all NBN connections in existence today, and while the NBN says it does offer gigabit connections, when NBN Co wants you to ask "how much speed do you need?", it doesn't expect gigabit will be your answer. 

My Telstra 4GX connection gives me 259Mbps down and 40.8Mbps up in my most recent check with the Speedtest app, which is vastly faster than the 72.59Mbps down and barely 10Mbps up that the iiNet VDSL2 connection I'm using in Canberra at the moment delivers.

iiNet's VDSL2 connection isn't even a part of the NBN, and is on a nearly 20-year-old network, showing just how much faster speeds could have been long before the NBN came along, if only the Howard Government and Telstra had decided to roll it out way back in around 2005 when Telstra was thinking about it.

Fast forward to 2018, and with ideological, capitalist, socialist and other battles having raged around the NBN, I've made it clear that while the Labor side of things just doesn't appeal to me, the resultant mess shows we should simply have bitten the bullet and gone for a fibre-to-the-premises network with the ability to deliver gigabit and better speeds capability, and I'm sorry, given the fustercluck the NBN is today, and all the wasted money (let alone that wasted on figher planes and subs which are of qusetionable value against the Chinese or any other threats), that I was against an FttP which would have been a better solution for Australians, and for which I very belatedly apologise. 

It's all too late to change history now, and if you want to repeat the loud, vociferous and deserved criticisms various people have heaped upon me for my past beliefs, as you can see in my previous article, then by all means, go for it.

This article originally stated that NBN Co isn't offering gigabit speeds, and I received an email from an NBN spokesperson noting: "We do offer gigabit wholesale speed plans and have end users on these speeds today. However there is currently very little consumer demand for gigabit speeds for the majority of Australian households and their current usage needs."

Unfortunately, as the NBN makes no effort to explain why gigabit speeds are useful, and most of its connections are simply unable to deliver gigabit speeds, NBN Co has very little reason to make the case, and certainly isn't doing so now. 

Reasons include being able to deliver multiple 4K streams to TVs, tablets and phones in your house, to back up those devices to online cloud storage services wickedly fast, especially if those data centres are in Australia, to superfast downloads of app and OS updates to all your devices, through to Teamviewer-style connections that feel like you're actually there, rather than with the jerkiness of latency and slow speeds, through to every aspect of your digital life going at speeds that the vast majority of Australians won't be able to access for a decade or more because of stupid political decisions that will cost tens of billions to fix. 

As an instrument of government, we can't expect the NBN Co to advocate for gigabit connections when it is ordered not to build connections that can deliver gigabit speeds for the vast majority of Australians, which is sad but... a fact of life in 2018.  

So now, the NBN is reduced to helping Australians choose the best for themselves out of a bad bunch, and is reduced to a politician's "three-word slogan", which in this case, is Check, Select, Connect, which you can read about at NBN Co here, with NBN Co's TV commercial also embedded below. 

The NBN Co is stating that these are "three steps to help get the best speed plan on the NBN broadband access network".

Perhaps quite understandably given the political and technological mess the NBN has been since 2007, NBN Co states that "the majority of Australians don’t understand how to pick the right broadband speed for their households’ needs, according to new insights released today".

The research, commissioned by NBN Co, reveals that while more than three-quarters (76%) know there are a range of speed tiers on offer when ordering a plan on the NBN broadband access network, two thirds (66%) don’t know how to select a plan based on their household's Internet usage.

"NBN Co has today launched a new public information campaign to help people select the right broadband speed tier for their household’s needs and to understand some other factors that can affect their experience.

"The three-step campaign — ‘Check, Select, Connect’ — will run nationally across TV, print and digital media to encourage Australians to:

  1. "Check – their Internet usage habits and the number of devices connected during peak usage times between 7pm and 11pm;
  2. "Select – the right speed plan for their household’s needs with an Internet provider; and
  3. "Connect – the right Wi-Fi router/modem in the right place and contact their provider to get help with any further in-home set-up."

It all sounds a bit slip, slop, slap, but you'll never get an NBN sunburn at the slow speeds of Australia's national broadband network.

In any case, NBN Co says "It will target Australians who can now connect to services over the NBN access network as well as those already connected to remind them to speak with their phone and internet provider and check they are on the right speed plan to suit their Internet usage".

NBN Co’s executive general manager of Marketing, Channels and Sales, Kent Heffernan, said: “With almost three-quarters of Australian households now able to connect to services over the NBN access network, it has never been more important for people to speak to their Internet provider about the steps they need to take to get the ideal plan to suit their needs in the evening peak periods.

“Our new campaign is another step in our ongoing efforts to help ensure Australians have the right information to get a great experience when they connect to the NBN access network.

"In some instances, even calling an Internet provider to upgrade to a higher-speed tier could dramatically improve their experience.

“We’ve seen a significant shift in people on higher speed plans in the past year, with the amount of wholesale plans of 50Mbps or above almost tripling from 16% to 47%.

"At the same time, the average bandwidth network congestion has reduced from almost five hours in December to consistently less than 30 minutes per service, per week (excluding NBN Sky Muster satellite).”

NBN Co reminds us that "the nbn access network is almost three-quarters built with more than four million homes and businesses already connected. NBN Co remains on track to complete the rollout in 2020".

Here's NBN Co's new TV commercial:

NBN Co has also provided various other tad-bits of info to explain its various statements, and I include those below unedited for your info:

  • NBN Co’s monthly progress report is designed to give Australians a clearer understanding of the ways the company is taking action to improve customer experience.
  • The metrics used relate to services NBN Co delivers to phone or Internet providers and the physical connection of homes and businesses to nbn infrastructure.
  • The metrics do not cover services supplied by providers to end users.
  • Metrics are based on averages, summaries and simplifications; end-user experiences vary.
  • Please visit nbn.com.au/updates for important information on the metrics and their descriptions.
  • Average network bandwidth congestion – Average bandwidth congestion across the NBN access network is around 28 minutes per week per premises – compared with 4 hours and 52 minutes per week in July 2017. This measure excludes NBN Sky Muster satellite. Bandwidth congestion depends on the capacity purchased by Internet providers. Numbers are indicative only. Your experience may vary depending on factors such as your nbn access technology, Internet provider, plan and equipment.
  • Uptake to higher wholesale plans – As at July 2018, there are 47% of homes and businesses on a 50Mbps (download) wholesale speed plan or higher – compared with 16% in July 2017. This measure includes 25-50Mbps (download) wholesale speed plans. Your experience may vary depending on factors such as your NBN access technology, Internet provider, plan and equipment.
  • Consumer research was conducted by Forethought from May-June 2018 and surveyed more than 800 Australians.
  • Your experience, including the speeds actually achieved over the NBN network, depends on how nbn network is delivered to your premises, whether you are using the Internet during the busy period, and some factors outside our control (like your equipment quality, software, broadband plans, signal reception and how your service provider designs its network). Speeds may be impacted by network congestion on NBN Co’s Fixed Wireless network, including during busy periods. Satellite users may experience latency.

You can visit the NBN Co Experience site for more information.

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

 

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