The NBN party is rolling down my street at the moment so I'm looking at what my options are when it comes to offers and plans. And it's all pretty disappointing. I live in an area where the best option has been HFC cable so I've had the option of either 30Mbps or 100Mbps connectivity. So, the lack of a faster option, which I'd gobble up in a hurry, has me wondering, where are the really fast NBN plans?
Back in 2017, NBN CO's then CEO, Bill Morrow, said "The fact is, nbn already offers a wholesale 1Gbps product to retail service providers, which RSPs can make available to more than 1.5 million homes, and has been on sale for around four years".
But asking around my friends and colleagues, I can't find a single person with access to these mythical plans.
Looking back through the NBN Co Wholesale Market Indicators Report shows a disturbing trend for those seeking faster internet access
No one wants slow internet, but getting a fast connection isn’t always straightforward. Differences in technology and location can greatly limit your options sometimes. At the same time, we’re all after the best deal – or in some cases, the least worst – so whether you're currently getting online through the NBN, ADSL, or mobile broadband, we’ve picked out some plans worth taking a look at.
In 2016, there were just 17 plans across the entire NBN market that offered gigabit speeds. By the end of 2017, that jumped to 173 plans. And it seemed things were on the up. But by the end of last year, the number of 1000Mbps plans slumped to just 84.
So, despite the number of people connected to the NBN moving along at about 40,000 new premises a week, the number of fast plans being offered is falling. The only reasons I can imagine for this are that actually delivering on the plans is too hard in many areas or users simply aren't asking for 1Gbps plans. It feels like scoring a gigabit NBN connection is less likely that winning the lottery.
So, who is offering these 84 gigabit plans?
That's a damning picture of what was originally meant to be world-class broadband network.
At the moment, I have a 100/5 connection through Telstra Cable. In a few weeks, when the NBN is hooked up, I assume I'll have the option of a 100Mbps plan although, looking at the junk mail hitting my mailbox, upload speeds seem to be a little harder to find, and the NBN 100Mbps plans seem to be dearer than my current offer.
But no-one is giving me a 1000Mbps option - presumably because the original FTTP NBN plan has been ditched in favour of the multi-technology mix which has likely added significant costs to to the NBN in the longer term and reduced the financial value of entire network.
The SpeedTest Global Index for January has Australia ranked at 60th in the world - a drop of five places from the previous index. It's worth considering that the number is dragged down by the tail of ADSL users who haven't yet switched to the NBN and some people opting for slower NBN plans although the 50Mbps plan seems to be the sweet spot for many customers.
More and more people working from home and trying to take advantage of digital technologies that allow us to redefine the nature of work. Entertainment is shifting away from terrestrial antenna services to on-demand streaming and other opportunities such as telehealth and remote education mean that the amount of bandwidth we will need is only going to increase.
The fact remains - those seeking a faster option are missing out. Across the entire NBN marketplace, with dozens of RSPs offering myriad plans, there are about 94,000 different plans on offer. Fewer than one in a thousand offer gigabit speeds.
It seems that while ADSL is, thankfully, reaching the end of its days, the fastest connections on the NBN are no better than what those lucky enough to have access to HFC cabvle have had for close to a decade.