news Some of the early adopters of the Government’s preferred Fibre to the Node NBN rollout model have now resolved their problems and are achieving the speeds they were promised on the service, following pressure on the issue from Delimiter and the Opposition.
The original version of the NBN as envisioned by the previous Labor Government called for most Australian premises to be covered by a full Fibre to the Premises rollout, with the remainder to be covered by satellite and fixed wireless technology.
The Coalition’s controversial Multi-Technology Mix instituted by Malcolm Turnbull as Communications Minister has seen the company switch to a technically inferior model re-using and upgrading the legacy copper (Fibre to the Node) and HFC cable networks owned by Telstra and Optus.
Several weeks ago Delimiter published the story of Newcastle resident Robbie Gratton, an Optus FTTN customer on the National Broadband Network who detailed how his connection would slow down to almost unusable speeds during peak periods.
Later that night in Senate Estimates hearing pertaining to the NBN, former Communications Minister Stephen Conroy revealed Labor had received about 60 similar complaints so far from early adopter users of the Fibre to the Node network which the NBN company is deploying around Australia.
Gratton recently signed up for a FTTN NBN service with Optus, choosing the 100Mbps/40Mbps plan. Initially, the resident noted, he was getting very solid speeds — close to 90Mbps. However, shortly after signing up, Gratton realised that during peak hours — from 4pm to around midnight every day — his FTTN connection turns “quickly from the best connection I’ve ever had, to the worst”, with speeds slowing to as low as 1Mbps.
However, Gratton told Delimiter that following the media coverage and political agitation regarding the issues, he had suddenly over the weekend started seeing the speeds he had been paying for — with speeds rising to as much as 95Mbps.
In response to the issue, NBN chief executive Bill Morrow had stated that the speed problems were not specifically related to the Fibre to the Node platform, but were instead likely related to issues such as the the amount of capacity which each retail ISP (such as Telstra or Optus) had purchased to aggregate customer connections back to their backbone networks.
Morrow stated that it was his belief that the similar teething problems would have been seen when the NBN company first started deploying its original Fibre to the Premises model.
Gratton appeared to be pleased with the significantly faster speeds that he was receiving from the service, but displeased with the amount of effort it had taken him to get the NBN service that he had paid for.
“It only took 21 days from date of connection, multiple phone calls tech support, 3 letters to Members of Parliament, 3 news articles, a complaint to the TIO and a mention in Senate Estimates (you know, the things that every Australian is able to do), to get my NBN connection to work like it’s meant to. If the speeds hold, I’ll be a very happy user,” he said.
As I wrote when this issue first came up:
“The bottleneck in this situation would not be in the copper cable running between customer premises and neighbourhood nodes, and nor would it be likely to be in the (extremely high capacity) fibre which runs from those nodes to local telephone exchanges. Instead, the issue is likely to be in the amount of capacity which retail ISPs are provisioning to each node — how much ‘CVC’ circuit capacity they are buying from the NBN company.”
It appears that Optus, at least, has now started provisioning something close to the amount of capacity it needs in locations such as Newcastle. Let’s hope other ISPs follow suit and that we don’t have to go through this political/media pressure situation every time FTTN (or, indeed, HFC cable) is switched on in a new area.
Image credit: Parliamentary Broadcasting