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(AUSTRALIA) NBN REPORT: It has been ‘fully operational’ for almost a year, but some citizens still don’t have reliable internet #AceNewsDesk report

Australian Internet Junk

#AceNewsReport – Nov.18: Fixed wireless speeds and quality can be impacted by weather conditions, obstructions in the line of sight between roof antennas and wireless towers, and network congestion.

Australian Internet 📶

#AceDailyNews NBN Broadband News Report: Five years ago, Jody Allen was excited about what NBN would mean for the business she runs from home…..ABC has developed an internet connection widget which shows how your connection compares to other options in terms of speed, reliability and cost. ……Watch this story on 7.30 tonight on ABC TV and iview.

Kindness & Love❤️ says time they ALL have a better ‘Broadband Service ‘ and improved connectivity to allow people to help other people in need of help and guidance Amen

Couple seated on the stairs with their two sons and a dog.
Business owner Jody Allen has struggled with her fixed wireless connection at times. (Supplied)

She lives about 10 kilometres from Gympie in regional Queensland and runs a parenting website: We do videos, all social media, but it’s all the other programs that take quite a lot of space as well [where] I really need excellent internet all the time,” she told 7.30.

But she’s been disappointed with the experience thus far.

Ms Allen is part of the 4 per cent of NBN users who have a fixed wireless connection, meaning data is transmitted over radio signals. 

“When it rains, we have no internet,” she said. 

“When it’s cloudy, the internet’s terrible.”

The business has 12 staff, who are often sent home when the internet drops out.

Ms Allen said there had also been times where they would hotspot data off a phone or drive into town to the local library to use the internet there.

“It’s just not good enough,” she said. 

Fixed wireless connections are typically used in regional and rural areas where there are large distances between premises.

A tall tower, shot from below, against a cloudy blue sky. There are gumleaves in the foreground.
A combined NBN fixed wireless and mobile phone tower in regional NSW. (ABC News: Jackson Gothe-Snape)

In a statement, NBN Co said the fixed wireless to Ms Allen’s home was online and working to NBN specifications, with no congestion on the infrastructure.

A spokesman said no faults had been reported in almost two years.

‘The future-proof option is fibre’

Australia has a patchwork of fibre technologies, including fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP), fibre-to-the-curb (FTTC), fibre-to-the-node (FTTN), connections via existing pay TV cable, as well as fixed wireless and satellite.

Labor’s original NBN plan was for more than 93 per cent of households to receive FTTP, with others connected via fixed wireless and satellite.

Labor estimated its rollout would cost about $44 billion.

The Coalition proposed a cheaper but ultimately slower NBN with a mix of technologies that would be completed earlier. Australia’s internet options compared

The current Communications Minister Paul Fletcher declared the NBN rollout “built and fully operational” last year, at a cost of $51 billion.

Associate Professor at RMIT Mark Gregory has been a vocal critic of the NBN rollout, and believes it should have been done with FTTP in the first place.

“It’s providing low reliability and it needs to be replaced,” he told 7.30.

NBN Co has already been upgrading some FTTN households to a FTTP option, as part of a $3.5 billion program.

Labor is seeking to make broadband an election issue, with a $2.4 billion promise to upgrade copper connections to fibre for 1.5 million premises who want faster speeds.

When it comes to fixed wireless, NBN Co spends $200 million a year on improvements to that service and satellite services.

There are also reports NBN Co is seeking a billion dollars more in federal funding for further improvements to fixed wireless, something neither the business nor Mr Fletcher would confirm.

Workers installing NBN fibre to the node next to NBN truck
Millions of dollars have been spent on NBN improvements, from upgrading connections to satellite services.(Supplied: NBN Co)

Mr Gregory said fixed wireless wasn’t working for many people in regional Australia.

“What the government needs to do is to go back and to relook at the fixed wireless footprint, and to see … which of these areas can be moved on to FTTP,” he said. 

NBN Co says given Australia’s geography, it would be too expensive and challenging to deploy fibre to all premises in Australia.

The company is exploring 5G technology as a way to enhance fixed wireless, but says the network is providing high-speed secure broadband in regional Australia.

Associate Professor Tooran Alizadeh from the University of Sydney has been researching the urban-regional divide when it comes to NBN technologies.

Woman wearing a white shirt standing in a living room.
Associate Professor Tooran Alizadeh has been researching Australia’s NBN rollout. (ABC News: Aaron Hollett)

“If you’re being serious about upgrades, if you’re being serious about the long-term game, the bulletproof, future-proof option is fibre,” she said.

NBN Co’s corporate plan includes some detail about its investment plans, but Ms Alizadeh said there needed to be a more strategic and transparent approach to upgrades.

“At this point, we are mostly going with ad hoc rounds of upgrades,” she said.

Thousands of Australians still without NBN

Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said his statement that the NBN rollout was “built and fully operational” was based on the fact that about 12 million premises could connect to the NBN, with more than 8 million actually connected.

He said about 10,000 “complex connections” still remained.

Paul Fletcher speaks in front of a bank of microphones.
Last year, Communications Minister Paul Fletcher declared the NBN was “built and fully operational”.(ABC News: Luke Stephenson)

“If we’d stuck with Labor’s plan, then less than 60 per cent of all premises would have been connected when the pandemic hit,” he said.

Matt Gillan is one of those Australians whose area has not been connected to the NBN.

He lives in Middle Dural — only about 40 minutes’ drive from Sydney’s CBD.

Mr Gillan and his wife run a small media business, creating commercials and videos with four-wheel drive content, tips and reviews.

Man wearing an orange shirt standing next to a 4WD.
Matt Gillan’s property still doesn’t have access to the NBN. (ABC News: Tom Hancock)

“Internet is absolutely essential so that I can upload videos, so I can download content. I can’t work without internet,” Mr Gillan said.

But Mr Gillan is still on ADSL, which is too slow for his business needs.

Instead, he takes his laptop and mobile phone in the car and tries to find a 4G spot nearby, where he can upload content or take video calls.

“It’s not only frustrating, it’s debilitating. It stifles my business,” he said.

In a statement, NBN Co apologised and said there had been delays to the rollout in Dural because of COVID-related supply issues, and the connection date for some premises was now March 2022.

Matt Gillan’s frustration led him to invest in an alternative to the NBN — a new satellite internet service by Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

Starlink is more expensive than the NBN’s satellite service, but it has also promised faster speeds.

Man in black leather jacket with sky and clouds behind
Elon Musk’s Starlink is a satellite-based global internet system that aims to bring internet access to areas of the world without enough service.(Reuters: Michele Tantussi)

“I can upload footage, I can download footage in a matter of seconds, as opposed to hours and days sitting in my vehicle up the road,” Mr Gillan said.

Starlink is in its development phase and only available in a few parts of the east coast.

Mark Gregory said even though performance of new technologies wouldn’t be known until more people are on them, he wasn’t surprised some people were looking for alternatives.

“What could happen is that these alternatives could start eating into NBN’s customer base,” he said. 

Jody Allen just wants to see an NBN upgrade that means she can grow her business.

“Better internet would be absolutely amazing, for people not just like me, but all workers who live rurally,” she said. 

“We’re entitled to make a living just like city people are, but we’re not getting the service that we were promised.”

#AceNewsDesk report …………..Published: Nov.18: 2021:

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