Thursday, 22 June 2017 05:48

What's my speed? Ah, says NBN Co, that is a secret


The NBN Co, the company building Australia's national broadband network, is refusing to release individual speeds that consumers can attain, despite calls from other telecommunications firms to do so.

The call from other telcos came on the back of the ACCC calling on Monday for volunteers to help measure and compare broadband speeds across the country.

The Australian reported that Optus, MyRepublic and Dodo backed the NBN Co revealing the theoretical speeds it had in a database, in order that Australians could know what speed they could expect before connecting.

An Optus spokesperson was quoted as saying: "Making this portal publicly available would make things easier for consumers.

“Consumers expect everyone will get the same speed under the NBN but it’s just not the case.”

The NBN Co has refused to make these speeds known publicly. NBN Co spokesman Tony Brown attempted to deflect the blame for poor speeds to retail service providers, telling the newspaper that NBN speed data was "not the answer for consumers" because what they were buying was a retail service from a telco.

Earlier this month, the head of Inabox Group, Damian Kay said that it was "the CVC dimensioning by our upstream partners that is causing speed issues and they are admitting it is due to the high price of the CVC throughput".

The initial plan for the NBN was to have 93% of the country covered by fibre-to-the-premises and the remainder by wireless and satellite due to accessibility reasons. But in 2013, this was changed by the incoming Coalition government which mandated that fibre-to-the-node be used in most places and cable (HFC) also be utilised.

Additionally, in recent months, NBN Co has decided to provision about a million homes using fibre-to-the-distribution-point as this would lessen the amount of copper used.

The former head of NBN Co Mike Quigley told iTWire in an interview earlier this year that "the MTM and use of FttN and HFC means that it is no longer possible to guarantee speeds as you could with FttP".

He said this limited people's willingness to order higher speed services and hence use more capacity and hence NBN Co revenue – making it harder to bring down CVC prices as rapidly as would have otherwise been possible.

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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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