Coalition NBN plan fails to mention upload speeds in 18 pages [Updated]

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Yesterday we saw the opposition launch their NBN plan. Since the the internet has erupted with debate over the details, but overwhelmingly the plan has been criticised. Something that has received almost no coverage is the issue of upload speeds. There’s been plenty of interviews with both Turnbull and Abbott since the launch, but not once has the issue of upload speeds been raised.

The internet has changed substantially over the last 5-10 years in that the communication is now both ways. User-generated content posted to social networks has exploded together with personal blogs as has the introduction of services like online backup. Video calls and desktop screen sharing have also become possible in recent times and demand good upload speeds.

The opposition seems to be avoiding the issue of upload all together, failing to mention the word upload once in their 18 page NBN plan.

This is likely due to the fact they don’t have a good story to tell in relation to upload under their NBN plan. While they are busy touting a minimum speed of 25Mbps down, we have no idea how much upstream bandwidth users will get. Currently ADSL2+ customers receive a theoretical 1Mbps up and realistically receive around 7-800kbps due to the standard copper constraints. I fear this situation isn’t going to get much better under a Coalition government.

Future applications for the NBN rely on most Australian’s having strong upload speeds. In contrast and one of the biggest differences between the plans is that FTTH will deliver dramatically higher speeds on upload. Current Internode plans for the NBN offer up to 100/40 Mbps.

If you’ve been to a sporting event, birthday or wedding recently, you’ll notice that every man and his dog has a DSLR. These create gigabytes of images very quickly. Often we get home after an event like this and want to share them with friends, family or the world. Currently users are compressing photos prior to upload due to insufficient upload speeds.

Personally I have a Windows Home Server with ever photo I’ve taken since 2002 and I’d really love to use online backup providers to ensure these are secured forever. With 6TB+ of data I simply don’t have that option, at current upload speeds, it would take years to get the data up there, all while creating more each day.

Looking further into the future, 4K video is absolutely coming. Last night we posted about a pro-sumer 4K camera for under US$4K. Fast forward to 2019 or 2021 and the average TV and camcorder is certainly going to be 4K quality. The volume of data created with those cameras is phenomenal to achieve their stunning quality. If we have any hope of getting that online to share to services like YouTube (which support 4K today), then we need fast uploads. Uploads that won’t be possible under the Coalition NBN plan.

Malcolm Turnbull went on a twitter spree this afternoon and has finally answered a question about upload speeds. As expected the news isn’t good. The response that normal residential product sets will apply. Problem is these aren’t normal for NBN speeds as discussed above, internode NBN plans currently offer 100/40. Turnbull avoids the 25Mbps speed in his response, the standard for ADSL2+ is 24/1, meaning we will see no increase in upload speed for years on the Coalition NBN.


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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.

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