A joint parliamentary standing committee has issued a damning report on the current processes employed by the NBN and urged the use of more fibre in premises that are not connected to the network.
The 210-page report, released by the Government on the Friday before the AFL and NRL Grand Finals and before most of the country celebrated a long weekend, also criticised the way complaints were dealt with by the NBN Co.
The report suggested NBN Co use fibre-to-the-kerb or fibre-to-the-premises for houses that are yet to be connected to the network, rather than the vastly inferior fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) technology, which is causing so many speed problems around the nation.
The committee found that while the NBN is being rolled out ahead of schedule, its speed and data metrics will not meet expectations, and that rural and regional areas are being disadvantaged.
“All the evidence strongly suggests that speed and data requirements of Australian households and business will continue to grow rapidly. [NBN Co’s] ‘user pays’ approach runs the risk of creating a digital divide in which low socio-economic areas with poor NBN are not upgraded because the demand and matching revenue will not meet the NBN upgrade model,” the committee said in the report.
“As it stands, Australia will not be provided with a fast, affordable, ubiquitous and fair broadband network.”
The committee also found that the transition to the NBN from previous networks has been “extremely poor” for some people.
“Many problems have been experienced at every stage of the migration process, from installation issues through to speed and performance faults once services are established,” the report said.
“The quality and service issues identified in this report were foreseeable and should have been identified and addressed systematically a lot earlier.
“The failure to ensure end-users are in a position to navigate the NBN migration process, when coupled with the quality and service issues, has caused a lack of confidence in the NBN, which in turn has likely affected the public appetite for higher speed broadband packages.”
The committee recommended users be given more avenues to lodge complaints, and better transparency of the overall process.
“The lack of enforceable rights and protections for consumers is a significant regulatory deficiency that cannot be allowed to continue. Lack of progress in developing new consumer protections is leaving business and residential consumers at risk,” its report said.
Read the full parliamentary report.
If your property is not connected to the NBN yet, all hope is not lost for the possibility of signing up for an affordable and fast internet connection.
This latest report will increase the pressure on the NBN Co to deliver fibre-to-the-kerb (or as the company incorrectly refers to it, fibre-to-the-curb [FTTC]) to the remaining properties that have not been connected to the network.
Last month, a council in NSW negotiated directly with NBN Co to successfully secure superior fibre connections.
Houses in the Bellingen Shire were initially designated to receive FTTN, but after council negotiation will now receive FTTC technology.
If your area is yet to have a node installed, you should immediately contact your local councillors and ask them to push for the superior technology to be installed in your area.
The FTTN problems are horrendous. Many users are reporting speeds as slow as 1Mbps during peak times.
Unfortunately, areas that already have the inferior FTTN technology look like they have missed the boat. I currently find myself in that boat.
At home, I currently have broadband cable, which delivers a solid 30Mbps consistently throughout the day. The NBN has rolled out FTTN technology in my area and for roughly the same price I am currently paying, I am being offered a service that promises maximum speeds of 25Mbps.
As this parliamentary report points out, the complaints mechanism is a complete shemozzle.
At every step of the journey you are told to address your complaints to the internet service provider and are discouraged from contacting the NBN Co directly.
This faceless and impersonal approach only increases frustration levels, particularly for consumers who are being forced away from their existing technology.
Are you connected to the NBN? Are you connected to FTTN, FTTP or FTTC? Are you happy with your internet speeds? Have you had any problems? If you are not yet connected to the NBN, are you worried about being connected to inferior technology?