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NBN Information


Overview

There is a lot of misinformation going around around about the NBN. There is also a lot of confusion because the ISPs, NBNCO and the Government have not been totally truthful in what they tell you (and if Tony Abbott had his way we would have been "updating" to carrier pigeons). It's not that they are lying - it's just that they are not telling "the truth, the WHOLE truth and nothing BUT the truth".

Now, some of what I have written in here may turn out to NOT be 100% accurate, and if someone can explain any errors to me then I'm happy to correct what I've written. But I've done a fair amount of research on this plus I have an NBN Fibre to the Node connection already so I have some personal experience.

One thing you do need to be aware of is that once the NBN has been released in your area you will have 18 months to connect to it before all of the old "plain Old Telephone System" (POTS) is disconnected for good. If you don't migrate to the NBN within that 18 month period then at the end of it your internet and your home phone will just stop working until you do (and there is likely to be a backlog at that time because of all of the other people who have been to lazy to act earlier).


Different NBN Technologies

Fibre to the Premises (FTTP)

The two most common NBN technologies used in metropolitan areas and large country towns are Fibre To The Premises (FTTP) and Fibre To The Node (FTTN),

FTTP is the REAL (up to date technology and future proof for the foreseeable future) NBN that the Labor government promised. With Fibre to the Premises you have an optical fibre "cable" all the way to your house which results in a much more reliable and MUCH faster service. You don't need an ADSL or VDSL modem as you can plug your computer directly into the Network Termination Device (NTD) which is installed in your premises. You may need a network switch if you want to plug more than one computer in via Ethernet cable and/or a wireless router (if you want to be able to use the NBN from your phone, tablet or laptop etc.

With Fibre to the Premises you should always GET the speed that you request and pay for. If you want the highest speed 100Mbps for your connection then you should GET a 100Mbps connection (ALWAYS unless there is a fault).

With Fibre to the Premises the equipment that is actually installed is capable of MUCH higher speeds than 100Mbps so as the "need for speed" increases NBNCo can allow faster speeds than 100Mbps without having to update anything other than a setting in a computer.

Fibre to the Node (FTTN)

FTTN is the "mickey mouse", "castrated", "brain damaged" NBN (that was ALREADY out of date before they even started installing it) that was Tony Abbott's dream (because he is not technologically very smart) and which he forced upon Malcolm Turnbull when he was the Communications minister and which Malcolm Turnbull doesn't have the guts to change now.

With FTTN there is a fibre optic "cable" to the NBN node which might be at the end of your street or maybe a couple of streets away - hopefully no more than 1km from your premises. The rest of the connection from the NBN node to your house is via the 100+ year old copper wire technology which is fraught with noise problems, bad connections and is generally unreliable.

When I say that the copper wire technology is 100+ years old I'm referring to the technology and not the physical copper cable which might only be 5 or 10 years old.

With FTTN, the further your premises are from the NBN node the slower the maximum download speed is for your premises. I am around 0.7km from my NBN node and my maximum connection speed is around 34Mbps so even if I pay for a 50Mbps or 100Mbps plan I will still only get a maximum speed of 34Mbps while if I pay for a 25Mbps plan then I will GET a 25Mbps connection. At around 1km from the NBN node your maximum speed is likely to be more like 25Mbps so there is no point paying for a faster speed.

Just as an aside, Telstra has just had to refund a whole pile of ISP charges back to their customers where their customers ORDERED a 100Mbps plan which Telstra was unable to supply but which Telstra didn't tell them. This was plainly and simply FRAUD.

Most ISPs will not TELL you what sort of speed you are likely to get (even though they can guess reasonably accurately) and the only way to really know for sure is to ask for a 100Mbps plan and then

  • run a www.speedtest.net speed test to see what speed you are actually getting
    or
  • look in the STATUS page for your VDSL modem to see what the connection speed actually is.

With Fibre to the Node you could get speeds faster than 100Mbps but you would have to be the house right next door to the NBN node and if you are 1km away from the NBN node then you can NEVER expect to get much more than 25Mbps no matter what else is updated (unless you actually get a Fibre to the Premises REAL NBN connection).


Phones and the NBN: Home Users

If you don't have a home phone then changing to the NBN won't affect what you haven't got. However I believe that most NBN plans include a home phone at no cost and in many cases even with free local and interstate calls.

If you have a home phone then when the NBN is connected the home phone will stop working. However the new NBN (VDSL) modem that you get will usually have a phone socket on the back of it and if you unplug your phone from the wall socket and plug it into the phone socket on the back of the modem then it should work (provided you requested to keep a home phone).

If you do request to keep your home phone then you can also request to keep the same phone number for your new NBN phone.

If you have multiple home phones (eg one in the kitchen and one in the bedroom) then they BOTH won't work unless you plug them into the back of the modem. The existing house phone wiring won't be useful unless you get a technician to come out and disconnect the house wiring from the incoming copper phone line and connect it to the back of the modem instead.

In most cases, if you have multiple home phones, it is cheaper to go out and buy a multi-station cordless phone system (such as those made by Uniden) where you plug the base station into the back of the modem and any extra cordless handset charging cradles only need to be plugged into a power point to keep the extra phones charged.

If you are connected to Malcolm Turnbull's outdated (fibre to the node) version of the NBN then you will need to change your modem from an ADSL modem to a VDSL modem but this is normally supplied by your Internet Service Provider (ISP).

If you are lucky enough to get connected to the REAL (fibre to the Premises) NBN then you get a Network Termination Device (NTD) inside your house and you may no longer need any form of modem. The NTD has a network connector to connect your computer to and a phone socket for your phone.

If you want to connect to the NBN wirelessly then you WILL need to purchase a wireless access point device although you CAN use your existing ADSL modem for this - just unplug the phone cable and plug a network cable from the old modem to the NTD and leave your computer plugged into the old modem. You may need to turn off the DHCP server in the modem first (your ISP or any IT boffin can help you with that).

I have read where faxes, alarms and other such devices MAY not work when your phone line is connected via the NBN but mine all do and that and dialling 000 may not work. I suspect that this is rubbish.


Phones and the NBN: Business Users

Usually business users have their ADSL modem connected to either their FAX line or to one of their incoming phone lines. Whatever phone line it is connected to will stop working when the NBN is connected for the same reason as your home phone will stop working.

If your ADSL modem in plugged into your fax phone line then when you change from the ADSL to VDSL NBN modem you will need to also unplug your FAX from the wall socket and plug it into the back of the modem and it should work. If you do request to keep your FAX line then you can also request to keep the same fax number for your new NBN fax. I have read where faxes, alarms and other such devices MAY not work when your phone line is connected via the NBN but mine all do and that and dialling 000 may not work. I suspect that this is rubbish.

If your ADSL modem is connected to one of your normal incoming phone lines then that phone line will stop working until you plug the phone (or your phone system) into the back of the VDSL NBN modem.

If you have multiple phone lines then when you first convert to the NBN only the phone line that is used for the NBN will stop working. HOWEVER you have 18 months from the uptake of the NBN in your area before ALL of the old phone system is disconnected so you need to talk to your phone system supplier to determine what needs to be done with your existing phone system.

If you have a reasonably new (VOIP capable) phone system it may need to be rewired slightly to connect it to the NBN but if you have an older phone system then it will probably be cheaper to replace it with a new system. There are ways to get around putting in a whole new system but they are probably almost as expensive and you won't get all of the benefits that the newer office phone systems provide as standard features. (One of the features that new office phone systems can do is allow you to have a phone at home which is treated as if it was in your office so your receptionist can transfer call to your home phone the same way they can transfer them to an office phone.

Effectively what you are doing with your phone system is disconnecting ALL of the connections from the copper network and replacing ALL of them with ONE network cable to your NBN VDSL modem or NTD.


NBN Speeds

Most NBN plans offer speeds of 25Mbps, 50Mbps or 100Mbps and the faster you want it to be the more it costs you each month. The equipment stays the same no matter what speed you select.

HOWEVER, if you are connected via Malcolm Turnbull's outdated (fibre to the node) NBN then you may not be able to actually GET 100Mbps speeds. The maximum speed you can actually get depends on how far away (in terms of cable length) your house is from the NBN node. My own house is around 0.7km from the NODE and the fastest speed that I can get is around 34Mbps. So...

  • If I pay for a 100Mbps plan then I will only get 34Mbps
  • If I pay for a 50Mbps plan then I will only get 34Mbps
  • If I pay for a 25Mbps plan then I will actually GET 25Mbps

If you are lucky enough to be connected to the 21st century REAL (fibre to the premises) NBN then the speed you PAY for should be the speed you actually GET (this is the biggest difference between the two systems).

I have been told by NBN technicians that the equipment that is actually installed for the REAL NBN is actually capable of offering speeds of 1000Mbps (without any upgrading of the equipment) and that it is possible for business to pay a premium price to actually have speeds faster than 100Mbps (but only if you have the REAL NBN). The actual fibre optic cable installed is capable of handling speeds tens or even hundreds of times faster (with no equipment changes) than the speeds offered.


Upgrading from the bogus NBN to the REAL NBN

I have been told that if you are offered (or already have) a fibre to the node NBN connection you can actually pay extra to have it converted to a fibre to the premises (REAL) connection. What you are paying for is to have your own fibre optic cable dragged though the existing underground cable ducts from the NBN node to your premises and then having an NTD device installed in your premises. Once this has been done and you have paid your initial installation cost the monthly cost SHOULD be the same as if you hadn't done this (but that would be up to your ISP).

I have also been told that if you and your next door neighbour BOTH want to connect to the REAL NBN then they only run one fibre optic cable past both premises and you are both connected to the same cable and can share most of the costs. If you could convince everyone in your street to request an upgrade then the cost per household would not be overly excessive with so many people sharing the cost of the cable to the furthest house although I believe that the further away your house is the higher percentage of the cost that you pay.

Note that even if you and your neighbour (or even the whole street) share the same fibre optic cable this does NOT mean that your download speed is halved or reduced in any significant way as the fibre is ALREADY capable of MUCH faster speeds than those that the NBN offer to you.


How Congestion affects speeds

Lets say that your NBN node has only 10 users connected to it and they are all on a 100Mbps plan. If you are all busy downloading pirated movies at the same time then each of you is attempting to download at 100Mbps so the node is being asked to supply 10 x 100Mbps or 1000Mbps.

Your ISP is also on an NBN plan. They buy data in bulk which they sell to their customers (you!). If your ISP has guessed that the most data being downloaded at any one time by all users on your node will be 500Mbps and they have only paid for this amount of data then what will happen is that all of the people attempting to download at 100Mbps have to share what actually available and will only be allocated 50Mbps because that's all that's available. So everyone's connection will slow to half of the speed you are paying for.

So how do you know whether your slow speed is due to congestion or a bad connection to your premises?
If you connect to the modem and look at the status page it should tell you the connection speed of the modem. In my own case the maximum speed I can get is 34Mbps but I'm only paying for 25Mbps so my connection speed shows 25Mbps and this is the fastest speed I can possibly achieve.

If I was to pay for a 50Mbps plan then when I look in my modem's status page I will see that my connection speed is 34Mbps (because that's the fastest speed supported on the length of copper cable from the node to my house). So, even though I might be paying for 50Mbps, the fastest speed I can ever achieve will be the 34Mbps connection speed.


What else affects your download speed

Let's say that my connection speed is 25Mbps and I am busy downloading my pirated movies and notice that my download speed is only 5Mbps. Why is that?

Well it means that somewhere along the path from the server with the pirated movie to my house are some "road works" or a traffic jam or another blockage that is slowing the data down. If the connection speed in my modem is still showing 25Mbps then the problem is NOT between the NBN node and my house (ie it 's NOT the copper cable's fault).

If the connection speed in my modem is less than what it normally is and less than what I am paying for then it may be (and probably is) that there is a fault in the copper cable from the NBN node to my house.

If my computer is connected using a wireless connection it may be an old or slow wireless connection that is slowing the data. Note that it is almost ALWAYS MUCH faster to connect your computer with an Ethernet cable than using WIFI.

I was at a customer's premises the other day and their wireless network speed was 54Mbps but when I plugged in a cable it the network speed jumped to 1000Mbps (around 20 times faster). Note that using a cable may not speed up your download speed if your wireless connection speed is at least as fast as your NBN connection speed but I have seen wireless connection speeds MUCH lower than this at the far end of the house. So a cable is almost ALWAYS better than WIFI.

So, lets say that my computer is connected to the modem via a cable and is running at 1000Mbps and my modem connection speed is 25Mbps but I'm still only getting 5Mbps download. Well, it could be because my ISP hasn't purchased enough download data for the NBN node that I am connected to. More data allocation costs more money even if it's not used so ISPs tend to cheat and NOT purchase enough data for everyone to download at the maximum rate all of the time. They purchase enough for the AVERAGE download speed at any one time and this will increase over time as more people use the internet for more things (especially streaming movies via Netflix etc). This usually works out OK because not everyone IS downloading their pirated movies at the same time.

How do you know if the congestion is because your ISP hasn't purchased enough data for your node? You can use the speed test at www.speedtest.net to check this for you.

If your modem connection speed is showing 25Mbps and you run a speed test and it shows you actual download speed as being (say) 22Mbps then the problem is NOT in the NODE (and is probably not your ISP's fault) but it could be that the server you are downloading from is overloaded or some other part of the internet is overloaded and THAT is just the nature of the internet - so not much that you can do.

If your modem connection speed is showing 25Mbps and you run a www.speedtest.net speed test and it shows you actual download speed as being (say) 5Mbps then the problem IS in the NODE and you should complain to your ISP and get them to purchase extra data allocation as you are not able to fully use the service that you mare paying for. (Good luck with that).