Jul 26, 2017

The huge problem with the NBN’s pricing that no one could see coming (except, you know, everyone did)

Those of us who have paid attention to the topic have long known that NBN's pricing model would lead to problems when people actually started connecting.

Josh Taylor — Journalist

Josh Taylor


There are no winners, only losers, out of the current debate over NBN's pricing model. Now that the national broadband network is available to about half of all Australian premises, Labor's chickens are coming home to roost for the Coalition government. 

The Australian and The Australian Financial Review have run stories over the past few weeks about how users aren't getting the download speeds on the NBN that they were promised -- not because of the multi-technology mix model used by the current government, but because it is too expensive.

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23 thoughts on “The huge problem with the NBN’s pricing that no one could see coming (except, you know, everyone did)

  1. tinman_au

    For a PM that is supposed to be into ‘agile’ and all about ‘innovation’ I’m a little surprised he is letting the kiwis walk all over us like he is (though I have to admit, he probably has a few distractions at the moment).

    I guess thats why they will be in space before we will (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-05-21/new-zealand-space-launch-has-nation-reaching-for-the-stars/8545126) and reaping the rewards, while we keep doing study after study (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-07-13/is-australia-freeloading-when-it-comes-to-satellite-data/8704628)…

    Couple that up with them switching to full fibre, at a reasonable build price even a year ago (https://delimiter.com.au/2016/03/09/nz-brings-fttp-costs-fttn-levels/) and very reasonable connection rates (https://www.broadbandcompare.co.nz/) and you have to wonder why any tech companies even bother to stay here.

    Australia, Home of the (wage) slave, Land of the Fee…

    1. AR

      To be fair, NZ is about the size of the cabbage patch state, Victoria.
      I’m told that the Merkin Isle got NBNed early & easily, before the Fall and the Reign of the Abbottrocity.

  2. tinman_au

    Oh, and great article Josh 🙂

  3. Xoanon

    I’ve been disapponted with my NBN speeds in the Melbourne CBD, very erratic over the course of a day. My old ADSL service was more reliable, and I was paying the same for that: $70pm.

    I’mn wondering what the point was of implementing the NBN at all, if we’re ending up paying the same amount for the same (though less-reliable) speeds? Surly the whole point was to enable higher speeds for the same sort of monthly outlay. Otherwise, what’s the benefit for the average user?

    1. Mark Hetherington

      The pricing was also intended to be uniform to give equity of access to rural users. In my (NSW based) experience, metro users get cheaper DSL services. In rural areas NBN pricing is often better.
      The original plan was also to guarantee 25mbps line speed to every user – higher then the potential of DSL services. That has been dropped also. In my case (on fixed wireless) I get 8x the download and 20x the upload of my previous DSL service, lower latency, at a lower price and unlimited downloads instead of 100gb/month. It also doesn’t drop out or slow to a crawl when it rains. FTTP should be even better.

  4. The Curmudgeon

    Speed is not an issue for me, but the fact that the system breaks down every few weeks is. This week, got through to a Telstra person (in India) to see what was happening. Twice in our conversation, I asked whether the problem was mine or whether there was some system problem in my area; on both occasions he assured me it was the former, and took me through over half an hour of various trouble-shooting measures, none of which worked. Finally, after an embarrassing silence, he sheepishly informed me that there WAS NBN work in my area and that service would be reconnected in an hour or so (and it was). The following day, the Philippines branch of Telstra rang me to ask if my “issue” (they never say “problem”) of the previous day had been satisfactorily resolved. My response is best not described. What a joke of a system!

  5. Hunt Ian

    There is, of course, a simple solution. The “regulatory decision to allow smaller providers to compete” in regional centres is part of the neo-liberal nonsense that has plagued Australia for years “Competition” is the only thing that holds prices down. We see this nonsense in the electricity market too and the same problem. Electricity, though cheaper for business than ordinary folk, is now so expensive that it is threatening to choke businesses around the Eastern seaboard who are “blessed” with the faux “National Electricity Market”.
    It would be much simpler to have a publicly owned owned NBN that supplied not only the connection but the services, rather than compound the cost by having the silly providers put their standard profit mark-ups in, regardless of “competition” to rack up the price. Alternatively, if you keep the silly providers, you cap their prices in the regions by regulation rather than push up prices to allow smaller providers to “compete”.
    The sooner neo-liberalism is drive from its compelling hold over bureaucratic minds in Australia the better for all of us.

  6. Bruce Young

    Still waiting for the NBN. I expect MUCH better than my current ADSL connection of 1.8 to 2.2 MB/sec. (I cannot get reliable YouTube downloads without interruption to streaming so other services are not an option. On the upside I can usually get ABC’s iView to work well. ) I expect to pay a SMALL premium for a 25 MB/sec service. GETTING this service at a reasonable & affordable price is very important to me as it is for the future competiveness, innovation and meaningful employment in this country. If the major political parties stuff this up, together with the gas & electricity bungles I will be among those making the dinosaurs in the major parties bleed in future elections.
    bky McKellar ACT (Canberra Suburb)

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