NBN is an embarrassment

The NBN’s embarrassingly slow speeds were thrust into the spotlight recently when the Ookla fixed broadband speed rankings ranked Australia 68th out of 177 nations, down three places from the prior year.

According to Ookla, Australia’s average broadband speed was just 41.8 megabits per second, far below the global average of 73.6 megabits per second. Upload speeds were even worse, with Australia coming in at 18.8 megabits per second versus the global average of 40.4 megabits per second.

In a similar vein, the Parliamentary Library ranked Australia 32 out of 35 OECD nations for broadband speeds:

Now, Telstra has advised that its top-tier NBN plan of 100Mbps will now be restricted to customers with fibre-to-the-premises and hybrid fibre-coaxial connections. Customers with fibre-to-the-node, fibre-to-the-curb and fibre-to-the-basement connections will now be offered a top speed of 50Mbps.

Telstra notes that many of these customers cannot access the top NBN speed anyway. However, technology expert Steven Conway warns that Australia risks being “left behind” if the NBN’s deficiencies are not addressed:

The 50Mbps plan will now be the fastest Telstra NBN available to the more than 50 per cent of premises with FTTN/B/C connections.

Only customers with fibre-to-the-premises (an estimated 19 per cent of premises) and hybrid fibre-coaxial (an estimated 23 per cent) connections will be able to sign up to Telstra’s “premium speed” 100Mbps NBN plans.

The decision was made because “a number of our customers on FTTN/B/C do not have connections that are capable of achieving 100Mbps”, Telstra said…

Last year, Swinburne University of Technology technology expert Steven Conway warned that the NBN’s speed, reliability, and congestion issues would worsen, particularly for the more than 40 per cent of users with FTTN connections, as more users come online before the June 2020 completion deadline.

Telstra’s decision to axe 100Mbps plans for FTTN/B/C customers shows that the NBN has failed to deliver for Australians, he said.

This was absolutely predictable from the day they decided they were not going to do FTTP,’’ Dr Conway said.
“Anyone with any understanding of how broadband infrastructure works would have told you that there are gonna be innumerable problems emerging from this kind of short cut.”

Dr Conway said that the NBN’s speed constraints mean that most Australians will be unable to take advantage of cutting edge and future technologies.

The NBN’s problems will continue to worsen, with Australia fast approaching “a breaking point where we are going to be left far behind”, he said.

“When you compare us to any other first-world country, in terms of the speed at which data can move and the amount of data we have to move, we’re going to be left in the dark ages.”

Dr Conway said that while it will be expensive to fix the NBN’s issues, it must be done without delay.

“We obviously are in a situation where we’re quickly approaching the precipice,” he said.

If we don’t take action within the next 12 months we are going to suffer quite enormously – on a macro scale as a country – economically.
“We need to be able to participate in first-world information economies at a level comparable to our competition.”

In other words, the $51 billion NBN is already obsolete before its roll-out has been completed.

Leith van Onselen


  1. I recently had a conversation with a Die-Hard NLP member / real estate agent who started the conversation with “20Mbps is enough for me, I dont see what we need the internet to be any faster just for entertainment… if you want more speed you should pay more”

    I explained to him that regardless if it is more than adequate right now, Most services are expanding to take up the available bandwidth, Once 90% of the world has 100Mbps as standard we wont be able to load a basic web page anymore….
    Everyone around the world will be taking advantage of new features and we wont be able to. I explained how his Web sites will not be able to take advantage with the new features because no one in Australia will be able to load them and if he doesn’t no overseas “Investor” will want to load such an antiquated page….

    It was like it suddenly became clear…… Show how it will threaten his income and suddenly he switches opinion.

    • Real Estate Agents are, by and large, idiots and the industry, at least in Australia is in the dark ages.

  2. If only we gave government more of our money then they already steal, this wouldn’t happen. LOL

  3. Why limit FTTC to 50Mbps?

    The copper length is only from the front of the house to the wall socket?

    • Yes this is odd. I have fttc with 50 year old copper in the house. I can get 95mbit if I download a file from providers server. Typical usage if I deliberately max out during evening is 65.

    • Mining BoganMEMBER

      To encourage punters to connect their own fibre along the last bit at the cost of thousands.

  4. Having rechecked the excellent broadband and upload speeds at the Manhattan and Point Piper residences of Lord and Lady Turnbull, I am not quite if I follow the point of this article. Once you give the peasants a sniff of services that the upper orders take for granted, you’ll never hear the end of it. Next thing they’ll want decent trains and schools.

      • This is a first class example of the damage politicians can do when unconstrained.
        After the decisions are made in parliament the project is handed over to a relavent constituted body of technichal experts to build / construct the project . Politicians play no further part, their job is done.Letting the buggers loose to mould it to their Donorowners requirements always leads to a loss to the taxpayer.

  5. Government was playing 5d chess, they stalled the second half of the infrastructure upgrade so they could pump it when something like a virus came through, absolute genius by them!

  6. Sorry but this is totally overblown, yes the government rollout was poor ( for reasons predicted and completely foreseeable long ago – but the boosters didnt want to hear it at the time), but there is no link between internet innovation and internet bandwidth. If it were truly so South Korea and Singapore would be the leading innovators in the internet space. Instead it is the US which although improving didn’t exactly have top notch internet either.

    And I really tire of those people who think they are missing out on running a world beating internet business out of their home becaue of the NBN. Reality is you would need to be running out of distributed data centres anyway.

  7. I’m waiting for these bozos to rollout steam trains as an initiative to leverage Australia’s unique combination of bountiful coal and long flat places.