fibre connection website

Losing the NBN Lottery (& winning with mobile broadband)

I have just moved house, and like so many other people, I came out on the losing end of the NBN lottery.

The area I moved to has been chosen to receive the worst of our government’s “Multi Technology Mix” – Fibre to the Node (FTTN). I have 500 metres of old copper phone line from my house to the node and a “theoretical maximum download speed” of 25Mbps (upload speed is less).

Because of various wiring issues in the street (or more likely, inside my house) my actual speed is closer to 10Mbps.

You know what else achieves speeds of up to 24Mbps? ADSL2+… which came out in 2005/2006. That’s around the time people were really into Blackberry phones with black & white screens, Netflix was a mail-order DVD company, and websites looked like this (mostly text, with tiny images).

NBN internet speeds 2006

Back then, your computer was just about the only device you owned that connected to the internet. Of course, even in 2005, people knew that we’d have a range of internet-connected devices and that we’d be streaming music, video and security footage. At last count, I think I had about 16 devices connected to my wireless router at home. Granted, that’s probably more than a lot of people, but things like phones, smart TVs and laptops streaming Netflix can quickly add up! That’s not even taking into account the recent rise of smart-home devices and platforms like Google Home and Amazon Echo/Alexa.

Yep, we’ve spent billions of taxpayer dollars on a political screw-up that was supposed to future-proof our network and help with the ever-increasing data and speed requirements of Australian households. Instead, we got a political hot potato which nobody will take responsibility for or admit has been handled poorly.

4G LTE, which is already available can run an order of magnitude higher than this archaic speed, and 5G is set to be deployed this year, which is even faster again!

For some reason, the government/NBN only guarantee Australians will be able to get 25Mbps by the time the NBN has finished rolling out (so basically ADSL2+ speeds). But hey, no household would ever need more than 25Mbps download speed. It must just be gamers that are complaining! Actually, no.

  • I like to keep my data backed up off-site, which means there’s quite a lot being uploaded.
  • I also have a security camera which streams video to the cloud and needs a decent upload speed.
  • While all this happens in the background, yes, I also like to watch Netflix in HD sometimes. Some households even have more than one person who like to watch videos at the same time! (I know, *shock* *horror*)
  • I work from home sometimes, which means I need to upload media and large files for clients.

NBN Co’s website says I should choose a higher speed if I want to stream HD video or work from home. Yeah, I would if I could. Some NBN resellers are even offering 250Mbps plans. The problem is that there are only a handful of people that are able to get it. At this point, my ISP recommended that I change down to the NBN 25 plan (which is nice of them, trying to save me money). The problem with that is it also caps the upload speed at 5Mbps.

So I decided to try out a mobile broadband connection instead.

before and after NBN speeds

I picked up and Optus 4G Plus WiFi modem. At the moment for $80/month you can get a 500GB plan, which should be reasonable for a lot of people. As you can see from the screenshots, my download speed is now about 5x what it was on the FTTN NBN connection. Needless to say, I’ve cancelled my NBN plan.

I think it’s time for the government to admit the giant steaming pile of doo-doo that the NBN is, write off the cost entirely, take the hit and bury it in a hole to die. With large data allowances starting to appear for 4G home connections and the impending rollout of 5G, I think it’s going to be sooner rather than later that NBN loses a lot of its end-users.

Until then, Australia is playing catch-up. Situation normal.

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