Aussies blast ‘diabolical’ NBN
More than 126,000 households and businesses are stuck with slow download speeds over the National Broadband Network, while others are waiting for engineering work to let them connect to the multibillion-dollar infrastructure project at all.
The details emerged two months after the NBN's June 30 deadline, and despite assurances that the "initial build" of the network was complete.
In response to a Senate question, NBN Co revealed 139,963 properties were still unable to receive the legislated minimum download speed of 25 megabits per second over copper connections in May.
But an NBN Co spokesman said 14,000 premises from that group had received a speed boost or new connection over the past four months to meet the minimum standard.
The internet speed target was first set by then Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull and added to laws governing the NBN this May, with the Telecommunications Legislation Amendment also mandating a peak upload speed of five megabits.
But tens of thousands of users on fibre-to-the-home technology are still unable to access these internet speeds due to problems including lengthy copper connections, line faults, bad wiring, and "coexistence" with older ADSL technology.
Retiree Greg Murray from Lisarow on NSW's Central Coast said he had been fighting to get an NBN connection to his home for more than a year after discovering the planned connection would not meet speed requirements and would not go ahead.
"I joke with everyone around here that I will be the last man in Australia to be connected to the NBN," Mr Murray told News Corp Australia.
"It's been nothing other than diabolical."
When the NBN moved into his suburb, his ADSL connection dropped to speeds slower than one megabit per second with 20 dropouts a day, he said, making it difficult to even receive an email message.
But when he tried to switch to an NBN connection, he discovered the company planned to connect his home to a cabinet more than 1.1km away, which would not meet the legal requirements.
"This went on and on and after 12 to 18 months of driving me crazy, I pulled the plug," he said.
Mr Murray and his wife have been forced to connect to the Telstra mobile network to access the internet and, after complaining to his local MP Emma McBride, discovered the NBN had "no specific ETA available at this stage" for connecting his home.
But an NBN Co spokesman said construction work in his area meant his home was now due "to be made ready to connect in September 2020".
"We recognise that we have more work to do to deliver download speeds of at least 25 mbps to the remaining 126,079 or approximately four per cent of premises on FTTN that are receiving less than 25 mbps, and we are undertaking this work as a priority," the spokesman said.
Shadow Communications Minister Michelle Rowland called on the company to fast-track connections and upgrades for homes facing slow speeds, and warned it could take NBN Co until 2022 to connect them at the current rate of progress.
"Why isn't a $51 billion network delivering basic minimum speeds?" she said.
"Here we are in 2020 and some Australians connected to fibre-to-the-node are still not able to access the most basic broadband capability that was promised."
Independent telecommunications analyst Paul Budde said slow download speeds were inevitable when using old copper connections, and it highlighted the need for upgrades to much of Australia's NBN infrastructure.
"It is a mess and there are no easy solutions," he said. "They way they are fiddling around is not going to fix the old technologies. At a certain stage, we will have to upgrade to fibre."
HOUSEHOLDS WITH SLOW NBN IN MAY 2020
Estimate based on FTTN connections
Originally published as Aussies blast 'diabolical' NBN