NBN progress update, there are problems

The government’s National Broadband Network project is the largest infrastructure project in Australia’s history. With the project’s construction in full swing, it’s time to check in with the progress...

NBNCo

The government’s National Broadband Network project is the largest infrastructure project in Australia’s history. With the project’s construction in full swing, it’s time to check in with the progress made so far. The heart of the project is the 93% of the population who are to be connected by optic fibre.

So far, the FTTP NBN services are now available in 15 communities around Australia and leaves Northern Territory as the only state or territory in Australia that doesn’t have a single customer connected. If you live in one of the following locations, you may or may not have access as the rollout in each is still fairly restricted.

  • NSW – Armidale, Kiama
  • Qld – Townsville
  • SA – Willunga
  • Tas – Deloraine, George Town, Kingston Beach, Midway Point, Scottsdale, Smithton, Sorell, St Helens, Triabunna
  • Vic – Brunswick, South Morang

The plan is to roll out the optical network to more than 3.5 Million premises over the next 3 years (29 months remaining). What you may not be aware of is just how much development is currently in progress around the country. The map below indicates all the locations currently under construction. I was surprised to see that Wodonga now has 10 estates that are being connected to Fibre. You can search your area here and check back each month for updates.

NBNCo

Personal experiences from people online who actually have the NBN have been overwhelming positive. NBNCo has taken heat over the adoption rate in communities where the NBN is light up. Given the service costs pretty close to current ADLS2+ prices, but offers magnitudes more speed, it seems like a no brainer, but it’s not that straight forward. There are a few issues that explain the relatively slow adoption rate.

First off there’s the issue of existing contracts. Most Australian’s will be locked into broadband plans with existing providers. While every major ISP in the country has agreed to transition customers over to the NBN, this hasn’t yet begun and consumers can choose to say no to having the NBN connected.

NBNCo are marketing the benefits of signing up to the NBN but right now there’s some real problems with their selling points.

Staying in touch: Keep in touch with friends and family with high quality video calls and live chats.

– For an amazing multi-person HD web conference, it requires a majority of you’re friends and family to also connected to the NBN and that’s simply not the case right now.

Education: Easy access to educational content online for school projects and distance learning, plus you can collaborate with others all over the world.

– While education providers of the future will absolutely be staffed with teaching professionals who are A, comfortable and B, technically capable of delivering online, most in 2012 are not. A national training and education solution needs to be sought to solve this issue. Left to the standard turnover cycle of out of date teaching practice will see us having this same discussion 30 years from now.

Entertainment: Open up more entertainment options with the ability to stream or download TV shows and movies to watch when you want to.

– You’re digital entertainment will absolutely be delivered to you much faster than ever before. Of course if you’ve already moved to streaming your videos, they don’t stream any faster or at any higher quality than before. What would be great to see is the NBNCo work with providers like Microsoft or Sony to provide a NBN-only, Blu-ray level quality stream. This could then take us forward to the IP-delivery of 4k content in the future.

Working from home: Working from home just got easier with access to a business like broadband experience.

– I’d agree with this point if it wasn’t for the fact that a lot of positions simply don’t lend themselves to be done from home (take retail, medical, catering or basically anything you need to physically interact with customers). The more significant stumbling block is organisation culture. Recently we had work from home week where it was revealed that just 4 % of government employees work from home with that projected to rise to 12 per cent by 2020.

Phone: Using the phone at home with the NBN will essentially be the same as it is today.

– This is not a selling point.

Online Video Gaming: Your online gaming experience comes to life, with multiple players all around the world.

– The most progressive and potentially disruptive video game company OnLive recently filed for bankruptcy as they were unable to make their cloud-based gaming service a successful venture.

While it may seem like I’m being fairly negative, my goal is simply to point out that the marketing for the NBN services need to change to concrete things you can do with that extra speed today. If that can be accomplished then of course new and exciting applications can be created in the future, but trying to sell people on a dream of the future is a hard sell.

Over the next three years, the number of homes and businesses which will have, or be on the way to having, NBN optic fibre services are: 1,010,700 in New South Wales, 691,600 in Victoria, 678,600 in Queensland, 429,200 in Western Australia, 327,300 in South Australia, 135,300 in the Australian Capital Territory, 65,200 in the Northern Territory, 209,100 in Tasmania.

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This post is authored by techAU staffers. Used rarely and sparingly when the source decided to keep their identity secret, or a guest author who isn’t seeking credit.