When the National Broadband Network (NBN) arrived in my area late last year residents were greeted with a barrage of junk mail advertisements from all manner of internet service providers offering competitively priced internet at fast speeds.
At the time, I was under contract with Telstra, so I did not consider moving from Bigpond cable to the NBN. And thank goodness I didn’t. Over the past nine months or so, I have heard numerous horror stories from neighbours, acquaintances and friends from my area who have suffered from connection problems with the NBN, dropouts, painfully slow speeds, and even some cases of households being stranded without internet access for weeks on end.
As someone that works from home, and relies on internet access for my living, I decided that I am staying put with Telstra Bigpond for as long as possible in order to avoid the problems of the NBN, even if it costs me more in the short-run.
It seems that the horror stories are not confined to Melbourne’s inner-East, either, with the number of complaints relating to the NBN jumping 160% in the last financial year, according to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman. From The ABC:
More and more users of the National Broadband Network (NBN) are unhappy with their service and are protesting in record numbers.
Complaints have increased a whopping 160 per cent, with more than 27,000 reports lodged with the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) in the last financial year.
“It’s a worrying sign,” ombudsman Judi Jones conceded…
From January to June this year, NBN issues reported to the TIO quadrupled.
According to the annual TIO report, nearly 10,000 homes were left without useable internet or landline due to the NBN rollout in the 2016-2017 financial year.
Nearly 4,000 complaints were made about slow data speeds over the network.
“We have had some speed complaints where it has been multi-layered and it can take months to resolve,” Ms Jones said.
“I think the NBN is concerned, the retailers are concerned, and the minister and the regulator are also concerned. So everyone is focusing on it.”
The ombudsman said the figures may not be representative of the true scale of the problem, as most complaints were usually resolved by service providers before they reached her office.
…the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network said the massive increase in complaints showed consumer safeguards needed updating.
“Many consumers are being left with no connection or a service that is unusable. This is not acceptable”…
Meanwhile, Adam Creighton at The Australian reports that taxpayers could lose billions when the NBN is sold at a loss:
Inaugural Productivity Commission chairman Gary Banks and top Keating government competition adviser Fred Hilmer said the $49 billion government-funded NBN was likely to be sold at a loss. “Like the Collins class and the new French subs, essentially, we’re seeing taxpayers just throwing away tens of billions … it will be interesting to see how many are wasted on the NBN,” Professor Banks said.
Professor Hilmer added: “It will probably be sold at a bargain price with the commonwealth taking a hit and blaming its predecessors. What matters is whether government protects it from competition with regulation; they shouldn’t. It might be a natural monopoly in Bourke, it’s certainly not in Sydney or Melbourne”…
“We’re seeing some of the biggest licks of money ever spent with the least rigorous calculous: NBN is a classic”,… Professor Banks said…
Back in July, Optus CEO Allen Lew warned that mobile technologies may advance to the point where many Australians will feel that they do not need to have home-based telecommunications access, like the NBN. According to Lew, around 25% of households already do not have the sort of fixed-line access that would allow them to use the NBN, and other consumers may be of the view that the NBN does not provide them with sufficiently improved service to justify the extra cost of using it.
One wonders whether the $50 billion NBN will ever live up to expectations, and whether it will end up becoming another expensive stranded asset that is superseded by a superior technology, such as mobile broadband.