COVID-19 exposes broadband gaps

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The COVID-19 crisis has increasingly highlighted shortcomings in Australia’s National Broadband Network, Flinders University experts say.

With access to high-speed broadband (HSB) and the internet via the NBN now central to people’s livelihoods, education, healthcare delivery and even social connections, the Flinders University researchers say the “short-term politics of the 2013 federal election” led to decisions that caused an expensive rollout and current problems with the network.

“Our research shows that the way Australia’s NBN was implemented has meant that access to HSB is expensive compared to other countries,” Flinders University researcher Dr Matt Fisher says in a new paper.

“This contributes to more than one million Australian households not having an internet connection at home.”

The paper examines NBN policy and implementation from 2008 to 2018 through Australian government policy documents and interviews with experts.

“We found that equity considerations competed with political and commercial imperatives during the rollout of the NBN,” the researchers conclude.

“This resulted in positive and negative consequences for equity of access to HSB, with a change in policy and implementation in 2013 bringing greater risks to equity of access.”

Dr Fisher says the NBN rollout also created differences in the quality of HSB services in different areas.

“This is likely to mean that people already well-off will gain more health and social benefits from the NBN than those less well-off.

“As work, education, employment, healthcare and other social services increasingly go online, the inequalities built into the NBN could add to health inequalities in Australia.”

Despite significant pressure on telecommunications services and infrastructure, customer satisfaction has remained steady over the past three quarters, according to a Roy Morgan Customer Satisfaction survey.

Are you satisfied with the company or companies that provide your telecommunications services? Which companies do you use? Would you recommend them to others? Are you worried Australia’s poor NBN service will cause more problems during the pandemic?

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Written by Ben


Total Comments: 12
  1. 0

    went straight onto a mobile broadband service. Couldnt be bothered using nbn – too slow too late & too expensive.

    • 0

      Hi Les, so you “Couldnt be bothered using nbn”?? Too slow?

      I did a DIY upgrade to NBN from ADSL+ recently, and my download speed more than doubled from 11.7Mbs to 23.5Mbps … WOW!

      And Telstra now only charge me an extra $5 per month from $70 to $75.

      They also gave me a free modem and NBN interface box.

      The other big advantage is that the modem automatically switches to a 4G wireless connexion if the telephone line goes down. This has worked very well recently when the landline connexion failed.

      I don’t believe you that mobile broadband is cheaper, by the way.
      Anyway I have no need or desire to go to more expensive mobile when a desktop PC and landline, with it’s untimed local calls, is available.

      As for my HARDLY USED mobile phone, I pay ALDImobile about $10 PER YEAR to keep it active for emergencies. This has about $10 worth of calls available.

    • 0

      Mobile broadband is cheaper for me, sure you don’t get as much data but it does the job, don’t do streaming. I pay $40 for 65 gb per month. I cannot find a cheap NBN plan and I don’t have a line in so would have to go wifi anyway.

  2. 0

    I am with Aussie Broadband on a fairly basic plan, but still $58 a month for 200gb at 25mbps, very reliable and good service..Just been advised though they are increasing my payment to $65 on a 500gb plan! I don’t need this! but they don’t seem to care, so up it goes in November! But off I will go in October and go through the pain of comparing plans again! What a shame eh? The dollars are more important to them…

  3. 0

    The NBN should never have been started. It was advised by industry experts not to do it so Mr Turnbull went ahead with it. I was a satellite and wireless NBN installer and am well aware of the many problems with it. I pay Dodo $65 a month for unlimited data. Thats a good deal and speed although it is meant to be around 50mps it is usually in the mid 20’s. A little faster than my ADSL+. I think Australia should have invested the money in using wireless and satellite for people not connected to a mobile tower and used the 5G network for everybody within range. It would have cost less money to do this. I am happy with Dodo? Yes I am. Am I happy with NBN? NO I AM NOT. SLow speeds (I have tried 3 suppliers and can not get above the mid 20’s) drop outs and in the evenings the speeds drop below 20 as there are so many people on line. Probably doing video chats, phone calls, watching pay for sports, Netflix and all the other streamed Tv etc that we can connect to. A shortsighted government who has given the NBN to us and is certainly no longer the envy of overseas countries.

    • 0

      Similar to Country John. We’re with TPG and have been since dial up days. We moved last year from an area that is only now slowly getting the NBN to an area that has NBN. We’re in a FTTN area and I’m paying for 44Mbps and getting (if I’m lucky) 12 Mbps. The node is around 700 metres away and services around 100 houses. I did a speed test comparison using phone WiFi (NBN) and data and NBN WiFi was 12.2 Mbps and phone data was 34 Mbps. If TPG had 4G or 5G, we’d switch to that immediately.
      TPG have been good though. They contacted us to say they were sending out a technician to fix a problem that we didn’t even know we had. After we’d been connected for a couple of weeks they let us know that they couldn’t supply the speed we were paying for and gave us the option to cancel the contract for no charge.

    • 0

      Yes James the piper, I know what you mean when you say FTTN. My node is 900metres away and the cable carrying my NBN service was laid around 60 years ago when the area was developed. Some bits and pieces of it have been replaced over the years. Telstra was continually fixing problems with the cables and had difficulty keeping our 2 phone lines on. We had a business operating from home. I still have cable issues. I inquired about getting fibre to my home and was told around $400,000 so decided it was not worth it. We have around 200 homes on the node. As we know the internet is only as fast as its slowest point. In most cases its the copper from the node to the house. Dodo offered to finish my contract as they could not deliver the advertised speeds. They spent a lot of time trying to solve my problem and eventually put it down to the copper.

    • 0

      TPG is now owned by Vodafone, not an Australian company either.

  4. 0

    I went onto the NBN when it became available in our area, I was previously on ADSL with a separate phone line, that’s the only downside as far as I can see, my speed is better on the NBN, even though my connection is WIFI to the hub the cost is similar, I can’t recall any major downtime since going onto the NBN which was approx 2 years ago, I have seen stories from other people who have had bad experiences, but as far as I am concerned it’s all been ok, I use mine for Netflix and emails mostly.

  5. 0

    There is a gap, you can get plans starting around $55 or $65 per month but I cannot afford that much, I pay $40 for 65 gb, but of course that cuts out any streaming, but I don’t need it or Netflix etc.

  6. 0

    I am with Telstra. For $90 per month I get a landline (with 2 phones) and unlimited broadband. I have a hybrid connection utilising the old Foxtel co-ax cable from the node. My speed is usually in excess of 50Mbps download and about 16Mbps upload, PING of 9ms. I also stream movies and TV programs and have no issues with buffering. Two of my neighbours who use the old copper telephone line have speeds less than half mine and have buffering issues. Needless to say I am satisfied with my NBN.
    However, as a retired Electrical Engineer, I believe that Fibre to the Node has resulted in a second rate broadband, something akin to a six lane freeway funnelling into a single lane road with intersections and traffic lights. Worse still, Malcolm Turnbull as Communication Minister, and later PM, knew it.



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