WHEN salespeople start knocking at your door to announce the arrival of the National Broadband Network in your area, there’s one important thing you should know – you can’t say no to the NBN.
Despite being one of the most talked about infrastructure projects in recent times, it seems many Australians are still in the dark about the NBN.
An online survey found 58 per cent of Australians had no idea of the repercussions of being in an NBN-ready area.
“The NBN project has been mired in controversy and has seen frequent redesigns, so it’s no wonder many Australians aren’t in tune with all its ins and outs,” Angus Kidman, technology expert and editor-in-chief at finder.com.au said.
“Many people don’t realise their existing internet service will be cut off if they don’t connect to the NBN once it has been made available at their house.
“Both your phone line and internet will be disconnected. If you’re running a business, this can be really inconvenient even if it’s just for a few days.”
Installations are expected to ramp up, with all Australians expected to be able to access the NBN within three years – by 2020.
So it’s time to get savvy, here’s what you need to know.
If you want a home phone service – not just internet – you need the NBN.
Once your home or workplace is NBN-ready, you will have 18 months at most to subscribe to an NBN plan before your phone line and internet will be disconnected.
However, in some areas (mainly apartment buildings in urban areas) third-party players such as TPG and others, will offer rival internet services so NBN does not have a total monopoly.
For those living in rural areas that are too remote to get fibre, an interim satellite will shut down on February 28, and they must switch to Sky Muster if they want to continue getting internet.
Those people knocking on your door will likely be salespeople from retailers like Optus, Telstra and iiNet offering plans for you to connect to the NBN.
This is because the NBN Co provides the service, but doesn’t actually sell broadband interest services to households.
More than 50 retail service providers are currently offering different plans at different prices so there’s plenty of choice.
Picking which one to go with is probably one of the most difficult decisions you will have to make as choosing a cheaper plan may deliver slower speeds.
Many people don’t realise their speeds are also limited by where their homes are, and how they connect to the NBN.
During recent consultation, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission found many consumers were confused about what speeds they could get, and weren’t getting what they thought they were signing up for.
It’s a good idea to compare plans before you sign up to an NBN provider.Source:News Corp Australia
Connecting to the NBN using copper wires via the Fibre-To-The-Node technology will slow down their speeds and many are not aware how much of difference this makes.
At the moment the top speed offered by retailers is 100/40. This means you can download 100 megabits per second (Mbps) and upload 40 Mbps.
But if you are located more than 400m metres away from the “node”, which is essentially a cabinet where the copper meets the fibre optic cable, your maximum speeds will drop.
Those up to 800m metres away will probably only be able to get a maximum of 50 Mbps, and those even further away are looking at 25 Mbps.
You will not be able to get higher speeds than this, no matter which company you sign up with.
Technically, retailers are not supposed to sell you a faster contract if you are too far away from a node to get higher speeds, but this has happened.
Your home’s distance from the node is something you will have to check with the retailers as they don’t automatically tell you.
Even if you think you are close to a node (because you can see a cabinet close by), it doesn’t mean this is the node that you are connected to.
Everyone’s internet speeds will impacted by the plan that you sign up to as each company decides how much bandwidth they want to buy on the NBN network.
If the company you sign with doesn’t buy that much bandwidth (to save money), speeds can be a lot slower during peak times when there’s more demand.
Some people have complained of speeds dropping to 3 Mbps during peak times and top speeds promised may only be achieved at quiet times — like 3am.
The problem is, most companies don’t reveal what their real internet speeds are, saying only that you can get “up to” certain speeds.
If you want to get a better idea of who offers the best speeds, the Google Video Quality Report, shows the YouTube video performance over the 24-hour period for different providers, while Netflix’s ISP Speed Index can give you an idea of which retailers have the fastest speeds for their service.
The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network also has a fact sheet to help guide people through the process.
Finder.com.au has a broadband comparison tool that shows providers in your area, and how much their plans are.
An NBN spokesman said customers may get higher speeds 18 months after getting NBN because the network does not operate at full power initially to avoid interference issues with existing ADSL services.
“When an area has fully switched over to NBN Fibre-To-The-Node services we will then turn the VDSL connection up to full power — this should increase potential lines speeds by between 5-10 Mbps,” he said.
Source: Chris Chang