Those who read techAU will know by now I’m a massive supporter of the NBN. With two different approaches on offer, I definitely lean towards the current approach of building it once, building it with fibre. As someone who creates terabytes of content (photos, videos etc) the extra upload speeds afforded by a FTTP model would be life changing.
Instantly uploading to YouTube becomes a process that takes seconds, not hours. Even better would be the ability to utilize online backup services. Within the next ten years, it’s easy to see 4K TV being delivered over IP, rather than crowded broadcast spectrums.
Given that, imagine how excited I was to see the updated coverage maps last Monday from NBNCo. The latest coverage maps said the magic words ‘Fibre connection available’. Without hesitation I headed to the NBN providers to sign up for a plan. This is where things started to turn sour.
Regardless of the ISP, Telstra, iiNet, Westnet and others, all provide availability checkers before they’ll let you sign up for an NBN plan. Every single one was coming back ‘service not available at your address’. Confused at the difference in information between NBNCo and ISPs, I called a contact at NBNCo.
I was told that’s what ‘should’ happen, is that once you see it on the map, you should be able to get a service. I agreed, that’d make sense, but had them run my address and experience the same disconnect in status. I was told that NBNCo upload the property data for new availability once a week and it may have uploaded the map, on the Monday, but only sent the update the Thursday or Friday before. Annoying, but understandable, so I was asked to check the next week.
A week and change went by, every day I checked if I could sign up for a plan and the same sad result. This time I decided to follow up with Telstra. I’m only a few months into a 24 months contact for home phone and internet after recently moving. Turns out this could form part of the reason NBN adoption rates are low, break fees. Sure Telstra wave the early termination fee if you sign up to an NBN plan with them, but to be frank, their NBN plans suck.
Telstra confirmed the difference in NBNCo coverage map and called a NBNCo representative to discuss. After returning from hold, I was informed that fibre wasn’t actually available at my property. With a new estate going in behind me, a new estate across the road, I was surrounded by NBN fibre and confused why there was a big purple available patch over my property. After a lengthy Q&A, I left the conversation with this.
Where a fibre install has begun, NBNCo are drawing large areas of availability for NBN services that spans not just a couple of streets, but multiple estates, of which you can not get a service. As much as I want the NBN, this is not ok.
NBNCo may be in caretaker mode at the moment given the upcoming election, but they absolutely need to use surgical precision on coverage maps. Placing inaccurate availability regions does the project more damage than any potential upsides of showing further progress than has actually occurs. This leaves them open to political point scoring from the opposition. Worst still, it leaves one of your biggest supporters, disappointingly writing this post and sharing it with the world.
The outcome of my calls was that I could best case check again in another month, meaning at best, the coverage maps are a month off, worst case, who knows.
You can check your map here – http://nbnco.com.au/when-do-i-get-it/rollout-map.html, just know there’s a great chance it’s wrong. Those fans of the oppositions plan, just remember that there is no rollout map at all, it’s simple a ‘sometime before the end of 2016’ timeline.