NBN: 'Little Commercial Incentive' To Offer More Than 100Mbps Over HFC

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History is littered with grandiose statements that seemed reasonable(ish) at the time but were proven to be completely ludicrous. There's the statement made by Bill Gates that 640K of memory ought be enough for everyone and Thomas John Watson, the Chairman of IBM saying there was a market in the world for just five computers. And now, NBNCo has come up with their own version - the 100Mbps speed limit.

Earlier this week, NBNCo announced they will be enabling DOCSIS 3.1 on the HFC network they are operating. DOCSIS 3.1 has been around for a while. It's hard to understand why it wasn't enabled years ago by Telstra and Optus when they operated the cable networks but at least it's coming now.

According to the NBNCo statement, "DOCSIS 3.1 technology... significantly improves the spectral efficiency of the HFC network and allows NBN Co to use new higher range spectrum therefore doubling the capacity available".

Given more people are signing on to high-speed plans these days, with the company saying 75% of new end-user premises coming onto the nbn network are now taking either 50Mbps or 100Mbps services and almost half of the 4.1 million activated premises are on 50Mbps or above speeds, there's obviously a market for faster connections. It's worth noting that no-one is saying the 12Mbps plans on offer are a growing market segment.

But what's missing from the statement is talk of 1Gbps connections. Last year, when DOCSIS 3.1 was just a glint in NBNCo's eye, there was talk of gigabit speeds being an option. But in comments made to The New Daily the company said there will be a cap of 100Mbps for retail customers because a “very small number” of customers are demanding the fastest speeds possible.

"That being the case there is little commercial incentive for NBN Co to offer speeds beyond 100 Mbps at this point on the HFC network," Brown told New Daily.

According to data from NBNCo, 143 1Gbps services were in use. About two-thirds of those were delivered by MyRepublic, which temporarily offered a special price to Wollongong residents but they no longer offer a 1Gbps plan at any price.

I guess it's possible NBNCo will offer faster speeds through RSPs if the demand is presented. But a forward thinking country wouldn't be having this discussion. Sure, 1Gpbs services might be priced at a premium but completely dumping it as an option is crazy.

There are residential customers who crave faster speeds. With the number of connected devices in Aussie homes increasing rapidly and our dependence on cloud and streaming services for communication and entertainment growing we will only need more bandwidth.

Instead, we have an infrastructure company trying to balance a civil engineering project, a hostile political environment that has mixed ideology with technology and a growing population that is increasingly made up of digital natives who see fast bandwidth as an essential service so they can learn, work and be entertained.

And that may be why this policy by NBNCo is its 640K moment.

Update: Amended headline and added quote for clarity - apologies.


    Give me the speed I'm paying and I would be stoked.

    NBN: You’ll Never Need More Than 100Mbps
    have they actually said that or are you stooping to hyperbole?
    The NBN Co are many things that we don't need to start putting words in their mouth.

      Paraphrasing/hyperbole. Clearly, NBNCo has a track record of being inaccurate when it comes to measuring consumer demand, so wouldn't be surprised if they imagine that because 1Gbps services aren't available that means that no-one wants them.

      How about
      "Even if we offered it for free, we see the evidence around the world that they wouldn’t use it anyway"

        You forgot the second half of that quote

        “Even if we offered it for free, we see the evidence around the world that they wouldn’t use it anyway ... we know there are things on the horizon that are going to increase the need for further demand."

        It's nothing like what the author here was suggesting before he changed the title of the piece.

        I don't agree with NBN Co, but lets pick them apart for that they're actually saying and not throw our toys every time they say something we don't agree with.

        besides, they're struggling to guarantee 100Mbps so of course they can't roll out 1Gbps yet.

          The only reason they're struggling to deliver 100Mbps is the damn copper involved in FTTN. Replace that with the fibre we're going to need anyway in 5-10 years and you'll see stability and speeds jump dramatically.

    This is absurd. I live in a two-person household and we're already capable of saturating our 100Mbps (glass) connection.

      All I can say is that from my perspective, you guys are living the dream :-P

      I doubt very much its saturated 24hrs a day and that its saturated with traffic from legitimate sources. Probably someone who pirates BR rips and/or uploads them.

      How? What the hell are you doing? Surely it can't be that high all the time. I can max my cable connection to 40mbps or so, which feels pretty damn fast tbh but then whatever i'm downloading, downloads and I go back to almost zero.

        Not 24 hours a day, but with heavy-end-of-normal use in the evening. Two of us watching HD Netflix and maybe downloading something in the background is plenty to run out of bandwidth. It's definitely a first-world problem, but hardly a crazy use case (especially if you had a couple of teenagers in the house with their own screens)

    That's only because NBN's network is such a mongrel that they can't actually guarantee more than 100 Mbps to anyone.

      The fibre is capable of doing well over 100 as long as your ISP buys enough capacity. If you are on copper you are in trouble.

        Yeah, and this varies literally street to street in a lot of areas. And in some cases it doesn't even work regardless of the tech. It's a complete mess.

      Yep. Rather than admit that they'll have problems delivering reliable high speed services, much easier for the PR team to say there's no market for it.

        You can literally get gigabit though. The network has no issues pushing it. A heap of business plans support it, and consumers can also get plans like 250, 500 or 1000.

          Yeah true, but as I understand it hardly anyone is using those super fast connections at the moment. When everyone upgrades to one I won't be at all surprised if the current infrastructure struggles to reliably accommodate them.

    FYI, I'm going to update the headline here because I think it's a fraction too far. Apologies, and give me a second.

    Was in the States in January last year staying in a household with 400mps internet. Coming back home to 100 NBN was like comin back to the Stone Age.

    NBN: 'Little Commercial Incentive' To Come Even Close To The 100Mbps Adverised Over HFC

    Fixed it for them

    Can i ask what are you actually doing that requires more than 100Mbits?
    I have ADSL2 and i live near the exchange so i do get a good connection of about 12mbits a second down. I am able to stream Netflix and watch Youtube on my connection at the same time without any issues.
    I also work for a software company that has an internal internet connection of 50 up and down and we have at least 40 people in the office. No one is complaining about internet speed issues when we have multiple people running team viewer sessions as well as browsing the web and so on.

    The only time i would love a faster connection is when i need to download a new game as they are around 50GB downloads these days and i want to play NOW.

    I am not trying to say that faster is not needed just wanted to know how people are maxing out their 100Mbit connection at home.

    It's not that more people are signing up for higher speeds, the fact is that EVERYONE is signing up to speeds far less than we were told would be available. At every step we are being blindsided by government, NBN co, and ISPs, and the media fails, consistently to hold them to account. Stop feeding us sh*t sandwiches and do your damn jobs.

    Yes, more or less unlimited speed and no data restriction should eventually be given and the price should not increase, but instead decrease as more people gain access to the network. Until then we will be in the same situation that we are currently in, with some people having decent internet and some having no connection at all due to location.

      I hate being cynical... but I don't know what the difference between cynical and realistic is anymore. Any government project I just assume the worst case scenario and I'm always right.

      They put in all these toll roads here in Brisbane using a model that hasnt' worked anywhere else. I knew it wouldn't work. It doesn't work.

      The NBN. Far out what a shamozzle.

      Any takes for the new government health system? I opted out day one. It WILL get hacked, it will absolutely get hacked but not only that, it will be completely abused through the amount of people who have legitimate access to it.

      And I have to leave my trusty cable connection for the NBN. We have no choice. That's how the Australian government likes to do things. Poorly and then leave everyone else no choice.

    I still can't get 100Mpbs on my FTTH, because Telstra would rather discount my bill by $20 a month because they can't even supply 30, instead of fixing the fucking thing.

    Boy are they in for a surprise. The future of gaming is looking to be cloud based, so data centres host the games and stream the game play to your device. This will completely eliminate piracy and cracking of consoles since you don't really have any of the hardware or software in your hands to tamper with, you're streaming the video to your unit. Imagine all the people in australia that have a console right now streaming HD / 4k games to their "consoles" and the strain it's going to be putting on the NBN. They are going to need much faster than 100mbps to keep up with future tech.

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