Fixed Wireless NBN turns out worse than ADSL for some


news It was supposed to be next-generation infrastructure which would make their old broadband connection obsolete. But for some connected to the NBN company’s Fixed Wireless infrastructure, the performance of the platform is leading them to question whether their old ADSL broadband was actually a better option.

When the NBN company told residents in the Pacific Haven area of Queensland in mid-2015 that it was planning to switch on next-generation broadband to their properties through deploying four Fixed Wireless towers, residents such as Grant Maw were elated.

Maw, an independent software developer who works from home, deals with clients located around the world. “For me, decent Internet means the difference between making a living or not,” he says.

The deployment of the infrastructure was also viewed as a landmark move by other residents in the area, some of whom had been struggling to get any form of usable broadband access for years.

The NBN company’s fixed wireless product is designed to serve the needs of a small percentage of customers who typically live and work in areas on the outskirts of major cities, or in small communities in rural and remote areas. The network is primarily being built by Swedish manufacturer Ericsson (who also built Telstra’s Next G mobile network) and currently provides speeds of 25Mbps down and 5Mbps up, although the NBN company has also recently sent an upgrade to the network live which will allow speeds of 50Mbps/20Mbps.

However, the reality of how the technology is performing for some residents does not match up to the hype with which the NBN company has pitched the infrastructure.

When the NBN company notified residents in Pacific Haven that the Fixed Wireless infrastructure was ready for use, Maw immediately ordered the service installed to his property.

The software developer was subsequently visited by a technician who conducted a ‘pre-install test’ on his property. The technician informed Maw that, as with a number of properties in the area, his residents was outside the range of the local Fixed Wireless towers, due to the density of the trees between his property and the nearest tower, and that the trees would need to be cut down to receive a strong enough signal.

This comment came despite the fact that the NBN company had informed the local community during information sessions that trees would make little difference to the radio wave signals used to deliver broadband using its Fixed Wireless technology.

According to Maw, he then contacted his local Member of Parliament, the Nationals’ Keith Pitt, to complain about the issue. Pitt’s staff apparently contacted the NBN company about the issue, which resulted in NBN company engineers visiting Maw’s property to do their own signal testing.

The testing turned up a completely different result than the previous tests, with the NBN company advising Maw that his property was within the required signal strength limits, and that there should be “no reason” why a Fixed Wireless installation could not go ahead. It appears that the NBN company’s engineers did not believe the previous test had been carried out competently.

Subsequently Maw placed an order for an NBN Fixed Wireless service through Optus. The service as installed was able to deliver download speeds of between 27Mbps and 35Mbps to Maw, as well as upload speeds of between 12Mbps and 15Mbps. “Happy days,” he says.

However, this soon changed. During the past several weeks, the speed of the service has dropped to about 5Mbps, with the lowest speed recorded being 1.64Mbps (although upload speeds were fine). These speeds appear to make no sense, given that Maw has paid for a 50Mbps connection.

According to Maw, Optus has admitted that the poor download speeds on the service was its fault, due to an overloaded proxy server. However, the telco told Maw that at this stage, there were no plans for an upgrade, and that he should wait until after the school holidays to receive better services, as demand on the system would be diminished.

To verify that the issues were Optus’ fault, Maw also signed up with rival ISP SkyMesh, as the NBN company’s Fixed Wireless Network Terminating Device allows a total of four connections.

“Their download speeds on a 25/5 connection average around 8Mbps consistently, but the upload speed is unusable, averaging around 0.04 – 0.1 Mbps consistently,” he says.

In the past few days, the Optus connection has improved during the day, although it is still slow during peak periods, but the SkyMesh option is still suffering problems.

“Most of the time, doing a speedtest on the SkyMesh connection (25/5) results in 8.5 – 9.5 incoming but the upload test keeps timing out. I’ve contacted them only to be told that their T & C’s give them 10 days to respond to these sorts of problems,” says Maw.

The overall poor performance has the software developer reconsidering his old ADSL connection. For most of the past decade Maw was using an ADSL2+ connection, getting consistent speeds of 8.5Mbps down and 0.5Mbps up (he was also paying for a business-grade connection to avoid contention issues). Maw’s property is about 6km from his local telephone exchange, representing a substantial copper cable run.

“I am not sure where to turn to now, other than to go back to my old ADSL connection. But with politicians out there spruiking 50/20 connections and apparently no regulation on the behaviour of providers to ensure consistently adequate connection speeds, NBN could end up being the biggest waste of public resources in my lifetime. I am hoping that by giving this some exposure we might be able to get something done about it,” he says.

Ok, there’s a few things to note here.

Firstly, Maw’s story clearly does not represent the ‘norm’ when it comes to the NBN company’s Fixed Wireless platform. The overwhelmingly majority of customers who I have communicated with regarding the platform have been very happy with the deployment, and are getting much better speeds on the Fixed Wireless NBN than they could get previously on any platform.

As with the case we covered last week regarding ADSL being replaced by satellite, it appears that Grant’s story represents an outlier scenario — an edge case where the NBN network is not performing as expected. This is not the norm, and there may be specific circumstances in this region causing issues. I’m sure the NBN company would say the same.

However, secondly, it is still true that what we’re seeing here is a situation where there are multiple issues outstanding in this particular area of the NBN company’s network. It looks like there are issues with the NBN’s contractors, Optus’ network, SkyMesh’s network, and possibly even the NBN network itself. Some relate to congestion and poor network setup, while others are human factors.

This suggests that Maw is not the only NBN Fixed Wireless customer nationally suffering such issues. In point of fact, I have heard anecdotally of a number of other similar cases. I encourage readers with similar problems to post them in the comments below this article.

And even if you assume that the issues can or will be fixed (and for Maw’s case we hope they will), there is a long-term issue here which such fixes will not resolve.

The NBN company’s Fixed Wireless platform may be fixable in the Pacific Haven region. That network may become extremely stable and reliable, providing 50Mbps services to the local residents and businesses. But as we approach 2030, and bandwidth needs continue to increase rapidly, it should be apparent that even this network will no longer be powerful enough to meet demand.

At that point, one would have to wonder, wouldn’t it be worth replacing much of the copper cable runs in the region with optic fibre? Technology that would provide for the region’s needs for the next century, rather than the next decade?

The deeper I investigate the NBN network, the more I come back to the inescapable conclusion that over the next century, there is only one technology which will be able to meet all of Australia’s telecommunications needs. And that technology is fibre-optic cables. You can attach mobile towers to it. You can attach copper to it. You can attach basically anything to the end of it. But ultimately, the underlying basis of the NBN — its foundation — is going to have to be fibre. And that fibre is going to have to be continually extended further towards customers’ premises.

Because, as NBN case study after NBN case study is starting to demonstrate, nothing else is going to meet our needs in the long term.


  1. Raises the old problem about the limited range of plans on offer and speeds achieved, fixed wireless and fttn users, like ADSL users are forced to pay for speeds they can’t even get due to the limited range on offer

    • They should just change the words allowed to advertise internet speeds to fast, faster and fastest.

  2. Customer support also becomes unclear with these mixture of technologies, with FTTP one set of technology, one set of technical support tools. And with increased usage it becomes better and quicker at picking up issues, as there is no question of where the problem is, and you’ll find all the quirks and edge cases as it rolls out and that can be applied in a repeatable consistent manner. Peculiar issues in one location using technology you don’t use elsewhere means specialised dedicated resources b need to be applied just to this one location.

    • They’re potential for another provider lets say TPG rollout Wireless and new mobile telephone provider that piggy backs every 500 metre on FTTN/FTTP cabinets. Creating a giant wireless network

      Every street light could be a wireless node on the NBN

      When I last mentioned this. Someone invited me to a random Chatswood office(Sydney) for a secret meeting

      • Creating a giant wireless network on each node is a good idea in theory but it doesn’t scale. Physics gets in the way.

        You either need to reuse frequencies so much that the noise level becomes so high that speed drops through the floor (ever used free WiFi at a packed sports stadium?), or you consume huge amounts of valuable spectrum to maintain an acceptable level of service.

        Telstra running the Air WiFi network to provide a casual 1 or 2Mbit to a small number of roaming mobiles is a different engineering problem than providing at least 25/5Mbit to a suburb of tens of thousands.

  3. Wouldn’t it be a novel idea of we paid for the speed we received. ISP not delivering the advertised speed? You then pay a percentage for that period. More guaranteed speed/throughput, more money in their pocket. I bet they wouldn’t spruik wireless and cable so much then.

  4. “wouldn’t it be worth replacing much of the copper cable runs in the region with optic fibre?”
    Don’t be silly, if they were going to replace the copper they would replace it with… copper..

  5. This is something the ACCC should be prosecuting companies for. The speeds that ISPs advertise and the speeds they actually deliver are frequently wildly different, and you have no way of knowing what you will get without signing up and trying it. With increasing demand, particularly in peak times, this problem is only going to get worse (particularly on shared mediums like fixed wireless and satellite).

    • Under what grounds? ISPs have long been held to be giving reasonable estimates of their speeds (hence why every advertisement relating to speed you will see an asterisk following it and some subtext indicating actual speeds may differ).

      Essentially you’d be trying to sue as an individual, rival company or ACCC under s18 of the ACL. Unfortunately as above, this won’t catch an ISP where the speeds are merely indicative. Indeed the speeds are only indicative for the exact reason you’ve mentioned: congestion of the services. Unfortunately you have a contention here between an ISP being able to resell the connection a number of times for efficiency purposes (contention ratios) vs how many users might be simultaneously using said connection. On one hand, if you only permit a minimum ratio to ensure every user had ‘good speeds’ then its likely you’d experience periods of underutilization and thus strip the financial impetus to build or operate said connection. By contrast, if you oversell the connection we have the situation we now have, but we’ll also never know which users will be on at what times on a guaranteed basis. At which point you’d need a document with so many if’s and but’s in it, it would more or less be useless to a consumer to understand. Ergo its quite difficult for an ISP to garuntee anything on connection types which are notoriously unpredictable (wireless/copper).
      Mind you, there’d probably be more water in these minimum garuntees for say Fiber itself as it is more likely a provider could guarantee a speed (or at least a set speed range).

  6. Probably doing the dodgy wireless provider way

    Where you build a tower and run microwave links to each tower. Rather then dedicated fibre or microwave/wireless links

    But the main microwave link gets congested.

      • Not all will have fibre backhaul. As far as I know, the wireless tower planned for Tinderbox that will service Howden (southern TAS), will be getting backhaul via microwave link from Snug on the other side of Northwest Bay. Howden was originally FTTP, then FTTN after the election, and now reclassified for NBN Wireless with the plan brought forward to 3rd quarter 2016.

  7. I don’t really read this as an NBN issue – I read this as mostly an Optus issue for download and SkyMesh for upload.

    If Optus started by delivering the 27-35Mbps and outgoing of 12-15Mbps and then it dropped (and Optus have admitted a “proxy issue”, and speed for download through SkyMesh is 8MB but outbound is terrible, being that they both run across the same NBN infrastructure, then we’re looking at issues with what the ISPs equipment/data allowances are. Aren’t we?

    I understand wireless is terribly inconsistent (let’s say, a tree grows in the line of sight), dust and other things can impact it. So, sure there may be reason to revisit what NBN say is achievable.

    [Or in other words, beating this particular example up as “oh no NBN is terrible” is a bit of a stretch].

    If you were to say “Optus said they could do 50Mbps and now I’ve tried both Optus and Skymesh and I’m getting exactly the same poor results” I’d be right with you on it being an infrastructure/NBN thing.

    • Hi Andrew, the poor upload speed as described in the article is most likely due to the way the customer’s router/computer is configured: all outbound traffic marked as high-priority VoIP traffic (Expedited Forwarding). In this situation, the router/computer would be trying to squeeze all outbound traffic into 150 kbps of TC-1 instead of the usual 5 Mbps of TC-4. We would expect speed test results of around 24/4 Mbps (on a Plan with a Peak Information Rate of 25/5 Mbps) on towers in that area with computers that haven’t been (mis)configured like this.

      SkyMesh supports TC1 but I’m not sure that’s the case with Optus. That could explain the huge difference in upload performance. It would be good if the customer reads this article and can comment on the current situation.

  8. The Optus problem sounds like the issue a work colleague is having, with unusable Netflix. She was told that Optus have only provisioned for ~50 Netflix customers in her area, and they had 70+, with their recent six months of free Netflix promo, so she was pretty much stuffed.

  9. First. It’s not clear that this is an NBN issue. Sounds more like contention (that’s RSP code for under-provisioning) than a wireless problem.

    Second. That the initial assessment said that wireless reach *was* a problem suggests that the reach may indeed be marginal – even though the second assessment reversed that decision.

    Third. What on earth is Optus doing with proxies in the path? They should be delivering Internet, not some middle-man intervention.

    Forth. It’d be interesting to know if this area was always destined for wireless of whether it’s one of those areas down-graded from fibre as a consequence on the minimize-cost focus of the MTM.

  10. Hmm…My ISP advertised NBN for my area. Haven’t seen 1mm of optic fibre laid here, Sth Gippsland. Went through the motions, filled out application form and had a call back from a rep. After discussions the rep conceded that I might get half the speed I now get on ADSL 2 and no guarantee of that given my location. I’m in a hilly area, lots of large trees. We both had a ‘laugh’. He knew as well as I that the whole thing was in effect a ‘con’. Neighbour up the road (high on an uninterrupted by anything hill) signed on and tells me he sees no improvement at all over his previous ADSL connection. I suspect as more people are conned in to thinking they have ‘NBN’ (and most Australians really have no clue, especially in rural areas, as I’ve experienced, about matters technological) there will be a lot more yelling about this nonsense. What a fuckup.

  11. How can NBN say that trees are not an issue when they’re using 2.3 or 3.5GHz? At such high frequencies, almost anything that interrupts line of sight is going to impact the signal.

  12. Well I hope someone apologized to the first technician because he/she was stop on, hey Mawee your connection is a basket case but don’t you worry, my mate Turnbull will put you on a satellite with 400,000 poor bastards.

  13. Hi Renai, good article, but you didn’t list one other possibility in this paragraph …

    “It looks like there are issues with the NBN’s contractors, Optus’ network, SkyMesh’s network, and possibly even the NBN network itself. Some relate to congestion and poor network setup, while others are human factors.”

    The customer’s computer, home network and router (if they have one) is often a key factor in performance, unless that’s what you meant by ‘human factors’. An RSPs Support Team should be able to discover issues like that, if they are given the opportunity to go through all the options, including asking the customer to try another computer.

    But I agree that Fibre is definitely a better option than Fixed Wireless, especially at about 6 km from the local telephone exchange.

    • “The customer’s computer, home network and router (if they have one) is often a key factor in performance”

      hey Paul,

      I hope you are well.

      Mate, given that the NTU is supplied by NBN Co and is the same unit Australia-wide, and that Grant is a professional software developer with technical skills, I’m going to go ahead and assume that the problem is not on his end.

      I would also caution you to be careful what you post on Delimiter — we do not usually allow company representatives to make comments here, as they are usually 100% in their own self-interest. You can find Delimiter’s comments policy here:

      Before you post further intimating that the problem is the user and not your own service, I would encourage you to work directly with Grant (your customer) to ascertain what the problem is. I’ll look forward to your post detailing what the issue is after that point.

      Kind regards,


  14. Lol you guise!!
    I live in Mudgeeraba, Gold Coast, 5 k’s from the node on ADSL 2 and on good days get 3.5 down and 0.3 to 0.4 up :)
    There is no forward date for when the NBN will even arrive here.

    And yes worked out of this address for 7 years.

    Seriously considered moving to an address with fibre to the home. But unable to unfortunately. Who’d buy this home with such slow internet?

    To get around it, I need two slow connections, well it’s better than one,and they are pretty stable St these low speeds. Always the glass half full sort of dude, well you have to be, what else you got to do waiting for stuff to download :)

  15. Nothing wrong with the wireless NBN Technology when it’s used within its capabilities, just like any other delivery system some will get great speeds and other less than they wished for. Your headline reads like it’s based on more than “one persons” experience which is really inadequate to make the negative assumptions towards wireless NBN.

    I have wireless NBN and sure I would rather have fibre but it’s not realistic to expect that where I live in the wilderness in Tasmania. We have had a very large uptake in our village and to the best of my knowledge no complaints.We went from expensive 3g with low quotas as our only option to cheap unlimited Wireless NBN 4 months ago and it is a god send.

    I get 44/17 – 32/15 delivered through most days at peak time with the occasional dip below that during holiday season.( AAPT)
    A real Godsend for us and many other people who where previously on 3g only.

    I wonder how much time was spent diagnosing the local network in case the issue is closer to home.

    Wireless NBN a godsend to most.

    • Most.

      This is an outlier issue. But to me the telling parts is the apparent confusion around stuff that should not be an issue. For example the Trees.
      Having 2 separate contractors giving very different results is rarely a good sign, unless it can be shown one obviously messed up.

      It could also be contention issues(as others have pointed out), but that still shows teething problems with the NBN ecosystem as a whole. Sure these issues will likely get sorted out, but they still need to be reported upon.

    • “I have wireless NBN and sure I would rather have fibre but it’s not realistic to expect that where I live in the wilderness in Tasmania.”
      Much of Tassie was originally scheduled for FTTP. Are you sure you weren’t originally going to be a part of that?

      • Very sure, actually Telstra was surveying in the area with the intention of laying fiber to our town so they could offer ADSL 2 just before the NBN was announced by the Labor government of they day……..then all went quiet on the western Tasmania front regards that.
        The NBN was always going to be wireless in our town and we were just happy to miss the satellite bullet.

  16. I did not read anything in that story about the speeds the person was getting as NBN fault
    it sounds like both ISP just don’t have enough bandwidth to supply the service
    Even optus admitted they are the reason it was not working up to spec

    It’s not NBN fault if a ISP does not buy enough CVC bandwidth or has enough backhaul from the POI

    • Hi Simon O, that’s not the case here, at least as far as SkyMesh is concerned. Our backhaul from the POI is not even close to capacity, and we have other customers on that area getting good speeds. Perhaps we should reserve judgement until Grant posts again and provides an update.

  17. We have been on fixed wireless for around two years. Performance was great for the first year or so, the arrival of Netflix compounded with the 50/20 tier trial changed all that.

    Basically we went from a dead reliable connection providing around 24/4 speeds but started noticing regular quality drops in Netflix so went hunting, the early trial speeds of around 35-40/15 had fallen off to low teens download wise in peak times. Suffice to say that the fault finding that went into it was extensive (have you tested with different machines? Yes, does it make a difference? No, are you using wifi at home? No, have you tested with a machine direct connected to the NTU? Yes, did it make a difference? No. OK, good, now we will do all of this again while on the phone to prove it)

    Plus traceroutes requested to various servers etc etc etc.

    The biggest bugbear for anyone with some tech savvy is that the NBN part of the network is totally transparent to the user, we are near Kilmore and I am pretty sure from maps I have seen that we have a two hop microwave link before we get on to fibre, but as far as a traceroute is concerned the next link in the chain after my router is my RSPs equipment in the Bendigo POI. I damn well know that we are suffering contention problems, but with a completely transparent network I have no proof either way if it is on the RSP or NBN side of the fence.

    I am not looking at going back to a 7km long DSL line yet, but when throughput is under a third of the advertised speed, it is pretty galling to have “up to” thrown in your face, I am now paying for the 50/20 tier, but only because someone in the house does print publishing work and the 15 odd meg upload speed is a godsend.

  18. Great read, impressed with Optus admitting it was their network in re: to poor speed. I sympathise with the author as I too have poor speeds, 3mpbs after 4pm or after 10am on a weekend and same for holidays. Anyway for me it’s a fail.

    • Don’t sympathise too heavily; Optus may be willing to admit a contention issue, but they then go ahead and say that they only offer an ‘up to’ service and are quite happy to have you paying for speeds they can’t deliver, and ‘forget’ to mention slower speed plans would at the very least save their customer some money. First hand experience as of Xmas 2015.

  19. My parents in Jindera NSW appear to be having the same issue. Been paying for 25/5 speed, after 12 months with DeVoteD, switch to Internode recently. The only time they get the speed they’re paying for is over night, otherwise it drops to 5/1 or worse. It appears the tower’s wireless back haul has insufficient bandwidth, or there’s a bottleneck further up the chain. I’ll be contacting Internode shortly.

    • We’re in a similar boat. Also in Jindera, also with Internode. The speed is usually fine though, we just can’t maintain a stable connection. This was really bad initially and then after a bunch of calls to Internode (who passed the issue onto NBN), it improved. But the lights on the NBN modem on the wall still go out for a few seconds pretty regularly. Frustrating when we’re in the middle of watching or downloading something and it cuts out. Any online gaming is pretty much impossible. I’ll probably have to follow it up and jump through all the hoops again.

      The ADSL connection was pretty good in comparison. A bit slower, but much more stable.

  20. “one would have to wonder, wouldn’t it be worth replacing much of the copper cable runs in the region with optic fibre? Technology that would provide for the region’s needs for the next century, rather than the next decade?”

    Here we go again, and who, Mr LeMay, shall pay the hundreds of thousands and millions of dollars to connect all these vast distant premises by kilometers of fibre optic cable? The tax payer? It costs tens of thousands of dollars per kilometer of cable when its all said and done.

    The premises on fixed wireless are already the least economical to connect by fixed line technology, if you ditched the billions spent on rolling out fixed wireless for starters it would cost tens of billions extra to connect them all by fibre optic.

    Mr LeMay needs to learn some economic theory. “Technology that would provide for the region’s needs for the next century, rather than the next decade?” It’s not that they’re deliberately trying to stifle peoples broadband, it IS that the economics of deploying KILOMETERS of underground fibre optic cable would bankrupt the nation. And then you wouldn’t have any economic growth to worry about because we would be bankrupt.

    The economic rationale for not rolling out 100% fiber optic as Mr LeMay suggests is that the entire project would be uneconomical and therefore IMPOSSIBLE.

    The question must be asked, is he trying to kill the NBN?

    • Pressuring politicans to deploy more and more uneconomical technologies for political gain (popularity) is not a smart economic move and ultimately if politicians did pander to Mr LeMay the entire NBN would be in jeopardy and would not be able to be privatized without drastically increasing the costs you all pay (including city users) to subsidize the already expensive wireless bush customers.

      I’m sure we can all sympathize with bush customers facing slow speeds, but its not for our as a country lack of trying to remedy the situation, everything that can be done to economically provide service, is by and large already being done.

      All NBN can do about excessive users is impose data caps on fixed wireless to ensure the speeds are there. I’m sure that will be coming to control the leechers who ruin it for everyone.

      • The original NBN was realistic & did not commit to 100% fibre.
        The LNP however has already removed half a million premises from the fibre roll-out & is steadily shoving more consumers onto wireless.
        Adding that extra load onto FW combined with an ISP’s costs to access & provision all those extra POI’s results in a much poorer outcome for subscribers & much less potential NBN revenue after having reduced the amount of fibre &
        switching over to the present MTM’s location based quality of service lottery.

    • “the economics of deploying KILOMETERS of underground fibre optic cable would bankrupt the nation”

      Absolutely it would … unless, by some *crazy* economic mechanism, you could recoup the costs over decades by charging end users and ISPs for network access, and then eventually privatising the NBN company to ensure the Government’s multi-billion dollar investment was fully repaid.

      Oh … wait. We already have a plan to do that.

        • It’s Mr LeMay in this particular crazy part of the Internet I think you’ll find.
          Renai is found on other comment threads.

      • It would be centuries, the figures were talking about are tens of thousands of dollar range per 1 kilometer many of these premises are sparsely located over say 5 kilometers, 10 kilometers, you’re dismissing as though it doesn’t matter at all, hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars per single premises, what business in their right mind would give away a million dollars to connect 1 house? and then try to recover said million dollars over centuries? It’s just impossible. Sadly you don’t seem to understand that.

        • Its called economy of scale. Its how Private industry manage these types of rollouts as well.

          The key difference here is that as a Government project they were willing to accept a lower ROI in order to finance it, than Private Equity necessarily would have. Short term loss long term gain.

          • Then please explain why EVEN LABOR did not roll out fibre to remote bush regions. ITS UNECONOMICAL hence NOT POSSIBLE.

            Economy of scale?

            Repeat a million dollar per premise loss over 100 or 1,000 premises and you have a 100 million or 1 billion dollar loss, with no hope in hell of ever getting that money back again.

            Get it???

            The only place fibre make sense is dense areas or fringe areas CLOSE BY to dense areas (within 1 to 1.5km). Anything over that you’re talking over $20,000.

          • So how do you explain the existing PSTN build which cost a lot more in today’s money to build and took twice as long as what FTTP would have to build?

        • Centuries?

          You should probably mention that to all the other international telcos who are doing nation scale roll outs of FTTP on other countries like say… New Zealand?

          And for every “1 out lying property that’s 5-10km’s away” exactly how many properties do you reach on the metro and suburban areas?

        • Yet somehow copper was rolled decades ago, at a time when we were far less wealthy than we are today, and when automation was much poorer.

          My parents live about 10km from a country town, they have a satellite connection and a copper phone line. About 10 years ago, several kilometers of the copper line was replaced by Telstra (with new copper).

          I know someone else in the same town running a tourism operation. They want a fiber connection, they are prepared to pay, they are capable of installing most of the fiber themselves at low cost, they know for a fact that there is fiber at the end of the street but Telstra just point blank refuses to even consider it, saying “There is no fiber”.

          There is fiber all over the place already, and the copper gets replaced on a regular basis anyway. If we had a sane government operator or a competitive private sector then virtually all the copper would be replaced with fiber over the next twenty years.

        • As other commenters have pointed out here … if it costs so much, then how the hell did the copper get there in the first place?

          i would point out that the copper deployment mirrors precisely what a FTTP rollout would be: The Govt funding a nationwide deployment of a type of telecommunications cable, over many years, then privatising the company that did the rollout.

          We did it once; we can do it again. Only this time … let’s not let NBN Co become a vertically integrated quasi-monopolist.

          • Exactly! PMG built National Infrastructure (PSTN) for the good of the nation – The libs and MtM Co don’t understand this simple concept and we are now starting to pay the price for their short-term corporate style thinking!

          • When having thought about it, the Liberals are openly advocating that Australia would be better off today if a phone service was never installed.

          • “As other commenters have pointed out here … if it costs so much, then how the hell did the copper get there in the first place?”

            20 or 50 years ago they didn’t have the working standards or minimum wages we do in modern Australia.

            Workers back then or even slaves would not have been getting minimum wage, contracts, unions, ETC.

            “i would point out that the copper deployment mirrors precisely what a FTTP rollout would be: The Govt funding a nationwide deployment of a type of telecommunications cable, over many years, then privatising the company that did the rollout.”

            They’re just getting less work for their money. If they paid adjusted for inflation the same wages that the copper network was rolled out at with the same conditions from 20 to 50 years ago they would get the same rollout.

            You’re comparing apples to oranges Mr LeMay.

            “We did it once; we can do it again.”

            Yes we can do it again but it will cost one hell of a lot more than it did back then.

            “Only this time … let’s not let NBN Co become a vertically integrated quasi-monopolist.”

            The only way NBN can succeed in this task is to be a wholesale monopoly, because cross subsidization is built in. City users are paying in effect a tax, higher rates on Internet, to pay for the fixed wireless bush users. If you didn’t do wireless but rather fibre all the way out in the bush the costs would be FAR higher, think double, triple, quadruple the amount they currently are per month.

            Higher costs per month reduces take up, putting NBN in jeopardy of failing/going bankrupt.

          • Renai I would urge you to read the history of telecommunications in Australia.


            The copper telecommunications system we enjoyed for decades, took decades to build and was done so incrementally.

            Not in 1 – 2 decades as per the former proposal or your proposal for an even more ambitious version.

            Telecommunications in this country goes back well into the 1950s. From then to today it’s been around 57 years before Labor won the 2007 election and the cogs started slowly turning on limited FTTP deployment.

            It’s by and large much of the same cables that were rolled out 50+ years ago that are being relied on to this day.

            It’s only been 8 years since the project begun and its already in it’s second iteration to avoid a complete failure.

            So when you ask ‘how did the copper get there in the first place’, the answer is 57 years of work, followed by currently 8 years of transition.

          • hey aaricus,

            sure, it’ll be a job of work.

            But the veracity of the original NBN FTTP plan has been proven. It could have been rolled out to, conservatively speaking, more than 90% of the population, again highly conservatively speaking, by 2025. It would have made a return on its investment over the next several decades, during which time FTTP could have been slowly extended to the remaining small percentage.

            In fact, if you think about it … this is pretty much what *will* happen now anyway … just over a much longer time scale.

            These facts are not in dispute by anyone apart from the Coalition and Turnbull’s appointees at NBN Co any more.


          • @renai the original NBN plan has been destroy; in both realworld actual performance and review. Numbers provided in this very forum.

            Typically those claiming facts aren’t providing any. You tell those spouting opinion by their lack of numbers. Much like the “detailed analysis” claimed a few days ago destroyed in 10 minutes.

            It would not have generated a positive ROI. Not even MTM is likely too. Revenue model presented For the ‘detailed analysis’ destruction, please don’t give the higher return for FTTH line.

            It is true that rolling fibre to every premise is possible, as it was with copper. However you might not remember the state of telecoms under the old govt monopoly; massive inefficiencies, high staff numbers, high prices, poor service. Before Conroy we’d moved on.

            Even now a new levy of non-fixed line Internet is being proposed to address the revenue shortfall in the cross subsidy model.

          • @Rich the original NBN plan has been destroy;

            Yes we know, it was your right-wing barbarian mates that destroyed it, thanks for finally acknowledging this fact!

      • Let’s see your financial modelling;-)

        Here the sync speed the important factor. NBNCo should have it. Again why doesn’t someone ask for it. If it is a stable connection then blame the RSP.

        Of note he can still get his ADSL. Copper in fixed wireless areas not retired. Telstra (et al) able to offer services in competition (devastating to their future revenue model).

          • @htc amazing the amount of info published over at whirlpool (link below, huge thanks) then isn’t it.

        • Telstra apparently appears to consider it more profitable to misinform potential NBN customers about the availability of FW in their areas & lock them them into ADSL contracts instead that keeps them paying copper Line Rental as well?
          Despite NBN FW being active here for the past 18 months Telstra informs me “NBN Not Available in Your Area” & offers to sign me up for ADSL at 7K’s from their exchange.

          • @g Conroy’s contract allowed copper competition in FW footprint. I’d think $11b contract could be negotiated a little better. Switch to FTTN (particular long reach options) a much better option for many of these areas (not affordable with FTTH).

            Have you asked another RSP if your premise has been deemed RFS? NBNCo very fond of the press release. Policy an enormous failure, likely your connection yet another.

    • “Here we go again, and who, Mr LeMay, shall pay the hundreds of thousands and millions of dollars to connect all these vast distant premises by kilometers of fibre optic cable?”
      As per the original plan, the service subscribers were to pay for it, handsomely – ROI for the FTTP portion of NBN was 11% higher than predicted rates – or over 50% higher than expected if you went by the Liberals’ rubbish figures.

      “Mr LeMay needs to learn some economic theory.”
      Apparently investment with guaranteed return is a bad investment. I’d think LeMay is doing much better without your expert brand of ‘economics’.

  21. FW 20K South of Taree became active 18 months back. We’re located about 1K from our tower with line of sight blocked by some tall timber.
    It then took us 3 months to find an ISP that could actually provide that service. (No Skymesh here :( & Telstra to this day tells us “Fixed Wireless Not Available In Your Area. Try our ADSL” LOL).

    IInet initially signed us up then had us on the phone daily for a week of trouble shooting on port 1 before they discovered they didn’t have a presence at our POI (Mayfield) & kindly released us from our contract minus a $10 admin fee.

    Next stop Exetel on port 2 on a 25/5 500GB plan that initially struggled to achieve 10/1 until they sorted their end out & we then enjoyed a reliable 20/4Mb/s for the next 12 months.
    That ended when Exetel emailed us that our service was due for their scheduled maintenance next day & would be out for approx 1 hour. Still nothing 8 Hours later, we contacted support to eventually discover they had failed to tell us we had been switched over to port 1 which despite endless trouble shooting only managed to supply zero to an intermittent 0.1/0 Kb/s over the next 10 days. Still without a phone & no remedy in sight. Goodbye Exetel!

    Now on Newsprout for the past 2 months achieving a regular 24/4.5Mb/s & waiting for them to offer the new 50/20Mb/s FW service.

      • Yes, that fee went down like a lead balloon when added to my phone bill & wasted time for all those hours of futile trouble-shooting a non existent service.

  22. Hi Renai,

    I hope you’re well too.

    “I’m going to go ahead and assume that the problem is not on his end.”

    You would think that, wouldn’t you? But that assumption would be wrong on this occasion.

    “I would encourage you to work directly with Grant (your customer) to ascertain what the problem is.”

    That was already done before I posted my first comment.

    “I’ll look forward to your post detailing what the issue is after that point.”

    That was what I was doing in my first post.

    It’s not appropriate for me to post specific information about our interactions with specific customers. That’s why I was being as subtle as I could be when I suggested that the cause could be that “all outbound traffic marked as high-priority VoIP traffic (Expedited Forwarding). In this situation, the router/computer would be trying to squeeze all outbound traffic into 150 kbps of TC-1 instead of the usual 5 Mbps of TC-4. ”

    While it’s true that some customers (including SkyMesh’s) on the Fixed Wireless network experience unexplained poor speeds at times, and some at all times, you were just unfortunate to choose the wrong example for this article.

    Perhaps you could ask your source if his speeds on SkyMesh are fixed, and what the reason was.

    “we do not usually allow company representatives to make comments here, as they are usually 100% in their own self-interest.”

    That’s definitely the case this time. It might be hard to get to a spokesperson at Optus, but you have all my details in your database and a quick call to me would have rendered your article moot. Anyway, please feel free to remove all my posts if you think that’s the best approach.

    Thanks, Paul

    • Just to clarify : I do not concede that there was a problem with my equipment. We swapped devices, the speed improved. I swapped back, and the (apparently misconfigured) laptop was all of a sudden experiencing better speeds as well. On top of this, PRIOR to the tech calling me, all my devices were experiencing poor speeds.

      Perhaps I’ve missed something, but how does one configure a laptop to push all network traffic through TC1, as you seem to be suggesting that I did?

      Paul Rees – I’d love to talk this one through with you. You have my contact details in your database, feel free to call me any time.

      • Grant, I dont see how you could have possibly misconfigured several PC’s and all of your other gear to tag all of your traffic as TC1 – it’s not something that can be accidently turned on in the network prefs. You need to configure QoS policies quite intentionally and it’s not a “click, done” scenario.

    • @pr please confirm customer tagged packets are passed on, not stripped before entering the network. Is this true for other technologies?

      In regard to the tone of responses; get use to it.

      • Im not with sky mesh, but based on Paul’s comments, I suspect customer tags are NOT stripped (or some subset are retained), and at least dscp EF is treated as higher priority.
        I suspect they do this to allow customers to run VOIP equipment over the link with the dropouts.

        Do a search for his other comments on this topic, as it appears there is a very low bandwidth high priority channel intended for VOIP telephony, that a customer can opt to use for their hi priority low bandwidth upload traffic.

        If they just stripped all those tags then the customer wouldn’t have the capacity to prioritise their VOIP traffic. Much easier for the ISP (all qos is left to the customer), but requires the customer to invest in the capability.

  23. Pacific Haven, being in the Fraser Coast region, has always had backhaul and contention problems like the rest of Hervey Bay. I have been living in the region for the past 8 years and I am continually told we don’t have the capacity. Many of my colleagues can’t even get an adsl connection due to no ports available in town.

    I am not surprised the promise of 50/20 is undeliverable in Pacific Haven, which is sparsely populated, and has many trees to block line of sight.

    While I sympathise with Maw for not getting what was advertised, the reality is he does live in broadband black hole and running a software business from there will continue to be difficult.

    • It’s not a black hole nor is it what I would call “sparsely populated”, unless you call an area with several thousand households sparse (Howard/Pacific Haven).
      The local telephone exchange has plenty of ADSL capacity last time I checked, it’s just that most people live too far from the exchange and cannot access it, which is why the fixed wireless is so important to people in this area.

      With respect to backhaul – see my update below.

      • When talking about Pacific Haven, aren’t we? and according to census data it is sparsley populated. Census data 2011 pop. 668. dwellings 311.

        Howard is slightly more dense, but I am not talking about that region. Yes, it is neighbouring Pacific Haven, but I am referring to the mostly rural / rural residential lots situated in Pacific Haven.
        Howard. Pop. 1364 Dwellings 659

        Okay so there are enough ports available at your exchange, it isn’t the case in Hervey Bay. Let me rephrase this “The Fraser Coast region is a fixed line broadband black spot.”

  24. Update : I’m happy to report that the problems with Skymesh are now resolved. At the time of writing this I am presently getting 30/13 on a 50/20 connection, and during peak period last night I was getting 20/6. Could be better, but this is a long way from where I was a week ago. It’s interesting to note that after hearing nothing for a week, Skymesh tech support rang me not long after this article was published yesterday :)

    The tech advised me that my connection was pushing traffic through TC1 (as described by Paul Rees above), and suggested that the speed problems were because of some issue on the laptop that I was using to conduct the speed tests. I had already tried with different machines, but at his suggestion we connected a different device to the service and the speeds were indeed much better, and now the original laptop – with the same configuration – is seeing better speeds as well (these devices are plugged directly into the NTU during all these tests, by the way, eliminating any potential issues with my network). Previously, I was getting poor speed irrespective of which device was connected to the service, and I do not know how a Windows 10 machine can be configured (or mis-configured) to push traffic through TC1 anyway, and neither did the tech.

    Anyway, I’ve now connected my main network to the Skymesh service, and all devices are receiving the same levels of data throughput via my network router. It seems that I must write the Skymesh issues off as some kind of technical glitch (either on my end or theirs).

    Optus still has not come back to me with any update and seeing as how they are not delivering on their end of the bargain, I am presently trying to get that contract cancelled.

    Technical issues are a fact of life I guess, and my only real beef with Skymesh is the time it took them to come back to me. More generally speaking I maintain that there needs to be some sort of regulation that forces ISPs to provide a minimum throughput rate of (say) 60% of the speeds that they are advertising. I know that this is easier said than done, but for a large company like Optus to say that “we know we have a problem but we have no plans to upgrade” when their network has insufficient capacity such that the throughput is < 10% of what the end user is paying for, peak periods or not, makes a mockery of the entire network.

    • “I’m happy to report that the problems with Skymesh are now resolved. At the time of writing this I am presently getting 30/13 on a 50/20 connection, and during peak period last night I was getting 20/6.”

      Good to hear that things have improved … but to be honest I don’t really regard the issue as resolved. You’re paying for a 50/20 connection, and getting 20/6 during peak periods? That still seems to be a substantial problem. And is it ever going to improve?

      • Hi Renai, I presume your question is rhetorical, but I’ll throw in an answer anyway : No, it is not going to improve. It is going to get worse.

      • Contention, talked about many times in this forum (by a few). See sync speeds.

        Tech issues on the users network. Programmer does not a network engineer make.

        RSPs should be required to publish their contention ratios.

  25. Some of the issue with wireless are caused by NIMBYs. Can’t install it in the best spot as the same people who complain about lack of services complain about where those services get installed; then they get to complain some more.

  26. How was he even getting 8.5 Mbps on ADSL2+ over 6km of copper?

    We are lucky to ever see 2Mbps (briefly, before it drops back to sub 1 Mbps) on 4km of copper in central Maitland NSW. And yes, I’m a 35-year IT veteran and we have tried all the available copper pairs in the street and a variety of network hardware.

    I would put money on his performance problem being entirely about RSP backhaul, contention and network issues, not the Ericsson wireless gear.

    Having said that, the chronic problem that will face NBN end users is the stupid ACCC decision in November 2010, after telco lobbying, to mandate 121 Points of Interconnection rather that two per capital city as proposed by NBN engineers. If the contention and routing issues were all within NBN’s regional network, they could be managed with economies of scale and uniform resourcing, rather than having private companies cherrypicking which geographic locations they will adequately provision.

  27. I’m not sure why this post didn’t go through I submitted it twice yesterday!

    As others have mentioned a misconfigured router can cause these sorts of issues (When I first setup my router on my Fixed Wireless Connection I had QoS running – but it was too much for the router to cope with and it throttled the speed).
    To add some weight to this story though I would like to add that whether or not the fault is the NBN or not, they make it extremely difficult to lodge a complaint. I am with internode and have 2 x Fixed Wireless Services. They automatically put me on the 50/20 trial and I was getting consistently 30/15, which I thought was reasonable. After the trial finished I am now seeing speeds of 3 – 10 down and 4 up. (Not the 1:1 contention ratio we were promised)
    I rang internode to complain about the speed drops and this is what the tech said the NBN needs before they will investigate:

    “ results with PC at NTD, day 1, AM results with PC at NTD, day 1, PM results with PC at NTD, day 2, AM results with PC at NTD, day 2, PM
    (So i have to create a one off pppoe dialup connection on my laptop to achieve this) results using router, day 1, AM results using router, day 1, PM results using router, day 2, AM results using router, day 2, PM

    Further to this, we require speed testing from our own mirror to ensure the speed issues are not within the Internode network:

    Finally, we require ping test results to our DNS server ( over 100 packets.”

    So in essence the NBN is shifting the burden of proof to the customer, which as they know will drastically reduce the amount of time they have to spend troubleshooting because the average consumer is going to be overwhelmed by such a process.

    This is not acceptable in my opinion

    • As others have mentioned a misconfigured router can cause these sorts of issues

      Grant had issues even with two of his PC’s directly connected to the NTD which suggests the issue was not with any of his CPE.

  28. Re Grant’s comment

    “At the time of writing this I am presently getting 30/13 on a 50/20 connection, and during peak period last night I was getting 20/6. ”

    Now please remember and burn it deeply into your collective psyches, that that nbn™ fixed wireless offers a 25/5 service, with an ‘up to’ 50/20 offering.

    What this means in effect, is that it would be highly unusual (faults aside) not to get at least 25/5 almost all of the time … and that is the expereince of nbn™ FW users.

    So why is Grant’s service only performing at 20/6 worst case?

    Well despite some of the comments here, SkyMesh has been diligently working with Grant to determine the cause of his several problems and do remember that this service was first commissioned with Optus and not SkyMesh.

    SkyMesh after considerable investigation and the somewhat slow process of an nbn™ investigation has determined:
    “It seems that the customer’s signal has degraded since installation and it’s wavering between -99 and -105. That could be due to alignment or a loose mount, but that will be why the speeds are as bad as they are at times.” see

    There are good reasons why this service is degraded as the site is not ideal for FW due to foliage etc.

    IMO Grant is very lucky that he has a FW connection at all. He is on the fringe and it was only after much polly bashing that he managed to get a service connected.

    Hopefully following an nbn™ service call, some improvement can be achieved in the signal level which may improve the service throughput. Note: In the past -96dBm was the commissioning cut-off signal level.

    As I said above, SkyMesh have been very publicly visible in seeking solutions for Grant and SkyMesh IMO deserve accolades and not brickbats.

    I am a SkyMesh customer and I sincerely applaud the extraordinary honesty in the way that they go about their business.

    John Kitchener

  29. I too had fantastic results with Fixed wireless to begin with but have been really disappointed by how my speed had gradually degraded over the last year. I’ve tried both Internode and Skymesh.

    Initially 13 months ago with Internode I consistently achieved about 23 mbs down and 4 mbs upload.
    When I was put on the 50/20 trial I initially regularly got 43 mbs and 15 mbs upload.

    However as the trial progressed my speed gradually dropped. I recall feeling disappointed when my speed would drop to 30 mbs download. A few months later I was getting between 15 and 28 mbs download, and 7 mbs upload. I tried to trouble shoot this with Internode to no avail.

    I assumed it must be a ISP issue and so thought I’d trial a one month subscription to Skymesh in the hope that it would improve matters.

    Sadly it didn’t. I found only very small differences between the services with neither being a clear winner speed wise. I contacted Paul Reese from Skymesh and he informed me that the issue would be likely to improve once the 50/20 trial ended and also that NBN were doing tower upgrades that should improve the issue.

    I ended my subscription with Skymesh just before the 50/20 plan became available. I was tied into a contract with Internode and assumed they would get 50/20 plans in the new year.

    On inquiring with Internode I now here that they will not have a 50/20 fixed wireless plan and that my only option is 25/5.

    Sadly my speeds have not improved and if anything are worse. I’d hoped that when the 50/20 trial ended I’d go back to the reliable 22/4 speeds I was getting prior to the 50/20 trial starting.

    I’ve been sorely disappointed. Tonight for example I got 8/4 and then 14/4 when I tested at 9.30 pm. This clearly seems like a congestion issue because at very quiet times I get about 20/4.

    I’m considering changing back to Skymesh to get access to the 50/20 but am not sure how much this would improve my service given the ‘up to 50/20’

    I should add that I am about 1km from a tower with clear line of sigh and high signal strength and have tested directly connected to the nbn modem as well as with 5g wireless and across several devices. I’m connected to a tower in Bonville.

    So in summary, what I thought was an amazing service has turned out to be mediocre. I was once hopeful that I’d get 95% of the 50/20 plan (which is incidentally what I reliably get on my work fibre connection).

  30. After trying two towers with insufficient signal (and five years of slow and unreliable ADSL), I was pleased when Telstra finally announced that I could have NBN fixed wireless. The day I connected I was getting around 45 – 50 MBPS download speeds and thought I was set. I work from home several days a week and require fast internet to connect to VPNs etc. Unfortunately over time (six months) that speed has steadily dropped to now around 5 to 8 MBPS download. I put this down to being one of the first to access the new tower when I was first connected and presumably a steady increase in the number of people connecting using that tower. I’m in the northern rivers region of NSW, close to Byron, Ballina and Lismore. Many people I talk to in the area have experienced exactly the same issue, even when connecting to other towers. Oversubscribed? Underspecified?

  31. Mid North coast FW here for the past 18 months & have not noticed any slowing down in the service due to our tower. Just from some providers where a switch immediately had us back up to speed.
    Not much point in paying for 50 if you’re only getting a 12Mb/s service.
    We’re still getting a regular 47/17Mb/s service on our current provider.
    Might pay to trial another provider on a 2nd port such as Newsprout or Skymesh as they don’t lock you into a contract.

  32. Our fixed NBN wireless started off at at 20/21 mps then dropped to 10 (within 6 weeks) then 5 (approx 10 weeks) now at 2.5 (yes that’s point five) within 6 months.

    iinet says its not their problem – its NBN allowing too many to sign up to the same tower – I dont understand the tech side to that comment.

    Just sounds like more of Turnbull’s bull !!!!!!! Second/third rate solution but sold as the ant’s pants by the Nats and Libs

    Who do you complain to – nobody will take ownership

  33. Bowen in QLD off peak 47/15 that’s at 4.00 in the morning by 9.00 in the morning its down to 8.0/8 then down to 1.8/1 for afternoon.
    We did better on adsl 1

  34. Hi Ray,

    A follow up from my post in February. I got this response from Internode in March after hours of speed test log reporting and calls. Seems there is a clear acknowledgement that there is a congestion issue. They will also apparently be addressing it, but give no indication as to when and what will be done.

    “Hi Andrew,

    Thank you for your time on the phones and your patience while we investigate this fault.

    As per our discussion on 16/03/2016 NBN have advised us that the cell that you are connected to within the NBN infrastructure has been reported as being congested. This congestion is reported to be offering during peak times, but sometimes as early as 7am on some days. This cell congestion has been compounded by a localised CVC (essentially the network router you are connected to within the NBN “exchange”) congestion issue during peak times.

    This congestion of the network is something that is being monitored by the relevant wholesale network department and upgrades have been planned to increase the capacity for your location. Unfortunately there is no current estimated time of restoration for the congestion affecting the line. Once this upgrade has been completed, NBNCo will let us know. Hopefully you should know about the fix before we do, with increased speeds during peak times being available to your connection.

    Once again, we are sorry that we are unable to get your service working to its full potential. We still hope that this issue is resolved in the near future.

    Kind regards,

    Customer Service Representative – Faults”

    • That strongly supports the observation that nbn have been under-provisioning backhaul to the Nodes @ 1/1GE instead of the 10/10GE they should have been provisioning!

  35. I am only 300 metres from our local exchange and used to have a reliable 20MBS ADSL 2 connection but received flyer in mail that the NBN can be connected to your home, and related hype how good it will be for me!!! Daytimes are sometimes 25+ down but evenings down to <3. Iinet said NBN would only respond to complaint if I run a mountain of tests and document them all. see all the steps here..
    Is this true??

  36. From what I read on Whirlpool iinet has severe peak congestion on some portions of their network which is unlikely to be resolved for some time & making you jump through hoops is just an excuse to palm you off as they are well aware of their current situation already.

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