Oh Good, Another Shithouse NBN Co Idea

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The National Broadband Network (NBN) has been undergoing a wholesale price review for the past two months, long enough for NBN Co to horrify the public with some disastrous ideas, like putting net neutrality up for debate. Unsurprisingly, NBN Co has other pearlers on how to "improve" Australia's world-class service.

ITNews's Ry Crozier, who has been killing it with the NBN reporting all year, is reporting that NBN Co has asked resellers about the possibility of making existing 100/40Mbps NBN plans available only for businesses, with residential users shifted to a new 110/20Mbps tier.

NBN has been looking at ways to increase take-up of the 100/40 plans. One solution that's been floated is to offer a 100/20 plan, with half the upload of the 100/40 product but for a lower cost. (At the time, this would have just been a supplementary plan, with 100/40 still available to any user who wanted it.)

NBN Co's argument in the review, as quoted by iTnews, is that users don't tend to take advantage of the 40Mbps upload speed. "To provision a service of these dimensions adds costs from a wholesale and retail point of view," Ken Walliss, general manager of commercial at NBN Co, said.

That makes sense. But there are plenty of users - gamers, streamers, people who work from home offices and content creators generally - for whom that 40Mbps upload is an absolute necessity. For one, most users don't get the full 40Mbps upload anyway: it's limited to the quality of connection and type of NBN you're connected to, with most people getting 35Mbps or less.

To their credit and the relief of every gamer down under, Aussie Broadband introduced some sanity into the debate. The ISP reportedly told the price review that "we believe there is still a reasonable segment of the residential market that want the 40Mbps upstream speed, particularly given the popularity of cloud applications for storing photos and videos."

Kotaku Australia reached out to NBN Co and Aussie Broadband for confirmation and comment, but NBN Co did not reply by the time of publication. Aussie Broadband confirmed that NBN Co put forward the questions to resellers, as well as their response to NBN Co, and provided a separate statement over email saying the 100/40 plans were "absolutely essential" for users.

With regard to the higher speed tiers more generally, we believe these speeds are absolutely essential given the bandwidth needs of some customers currently, let alone the bandwidth requirements of Australian consumers more generally over the coming years. We would actually like to see nbn develop additional discount bundles for the 150/100 and 250/100 speed tiers, as we believe there is a market for these speeds if the price was reduced.

The Aussie Broadband representative added that "we think it's unlikely" that the 100/40 tiers will be pulled from service, partially because the consumers that need that extra upload have no alternative. "We think it’s more likely nbn will introduced a discounted 110/20 bundle for residential customers and leave the current 100/40 bundle in place for RSPs to decide which customers are best suited to it," an Aussie Broadband representative said.

NBN Co, like they did when the "Netflix tax" reporting was at its peak, told iTnews that they hadn't put forward any proposals and that it was up to resellers to "purchase any available NBN offer to construct their retail offerings".

And that is undoubtedly true: NBN Co hasn't told resellers to "do" anything. They're just putting forward suggestions and are not enforcing anything in particular.

But resellers like making a profit, and if you continually lobby them with ideas that you'd expect to see in the hellscape that is the American telco market — like asking companies if the charging of "streaming video could be differentiated" from other data and services — then eventually someone is going to bite.

So instead of making "suggestions" and asking for "feedback" on ideas that will make Australian internet worse — and it's not great to begin with — let's just start treating the internet like a utility, and stop worrying so much about the amount of profit that can be squeezed out of a national asset. That's what resellers are supposed to do, after all.


Comments

    Just put it all on 5G.

      I'd love to get reliable 4G at home, let alone 5G or NBN.

        100 times this. I live a few kilometres from the population centre of Sydney. Phone shows 1 bar of signal in the house. I get frequent dropped calls, shoddy call quality and the phone simply not ringing. This is on the Telstra network.

        Wireless is not a solution.

        100% I was just being a dick :P. If only there were a simple solution.

      Great idea, and then we can [insufficient quota remaining] as well as [too many users connected to tower]. Way better than fibre!

      Mobile towers rely on the fixed line infrastructure being able to deliver the speeds. So if you're in a FttN area, they will still need to run fibre from the tower to the exchange, or at least to the FttN node. Though I'm not sure the FttN nodes can be upgraded to allow a fibre line out of it.

      Either way, for the number of towers needed its a lot of investment.

      For those in FttP areas, its a moot point. You're fixed line is already capable of speeds better than 5G. Its just the ISP's dont offer it, and NBN make it too expensive for them to do so.

      No.

      5G cannot and will not sustain and entire countries home internet usage.

        Because of my own and other families experience with this, I cringe every time someone suggests it. @benredbeard was only joking, but I still felt the need to add a few facts just in case someone thought it was a serious post, thats how bad I cringe.

        Mobile broadband is important and needs to be there, but its the fast food of net connections, not the meat and 3 veg. Or tofu and 3 veg for vegans. Its complementary, not supplementary and something you use in short bursts rather than extended periods.

          My mistake. My experience with these discussions is that there is always that one person who has no knowledge of 5G or fibre, proclaims that 5G is a viable replacement for the NBN. Without actually knowing what that entails.

          Sarcasm can sometimes be hard to read in the written word lol.

            Yeah, I've had that argument far too many times over the years. And I do argue with them. I know the field well enough that I know I'm right, and have the facts to back it up. Its far easier face to face though.

            But its happened enough times that I automatically cringes as I said. Its essentially muscle memory at this point. As soon as someone says it you know they have no clue about how it actually works, but usually have a pronounced (and smug) belief that they're right.

              Basic physics tells you that optical fibre is better than 5G.

                Oh definitely. One simple reason - to be wireless, you need an extra layer of encryption before the data leaves your device. Which by default slows the process down.

                It needs that extra layer decrypted at the other end, re-encrypted before its sent back, and decrypted a second time at your end. Which all adds time to that little packet of data doing its job, and the result appearing on your screen.

                Thats not even starting on mobile connections relying on the fixed line anyway, so at best can only operate as fast as the fibre its connected to.

                It usually takes 5 to 10 minutes face to face to go through all the reasons fixed line is better. Time depends on how far up their arse their opinion is stuck. Fortunately for me, the people I would be arguing with have known me long enough to understand I know what I'm talking about, and know some of my family are experts in the field.

                  @benredbeard me? No, my experience is in data analysis mostly. But other family has researched and lectured in the field for 25 years. I was acting as a guinea pig for their research in the mid 90's with this sort of stuff. Was fun tinkering with broadband back when people were happy on 28.8k.

                  My own experience before retiring was as an analyst in the ATO but I was also the IT 'guy' from day one. I'd be designing and building databases from scratch for example, or sorting other IT issues the normal IT area wouldnt touch. I'd be more data than IT, but I was still strongly IT along the way. Strange mix of experience.

                  But I have enough nous to understand the field well enough to argue with people who only think they do. Talking with that family member over the years has only confirmed what I thought I knew, or corrected mistakes I made along the way.

                  Like not really understanding why copper had a limited usage. We sat down one day years ago and they showed me why, which became a simple argument when debating FttN over the years.

            Yeah lol my initial comment, now I read it back wasn't specifically hinted at sarcasm. I can see your confusion.

        I understand this, I was merely poking fun at the idiotic ideas some on these "specialists" come up with. Stay classy friend and thanks for the reply :P

      5g will be slowed 50mbp/s by the NBN co,, thats the only reason it will be slowed down, they dont want it to keep them from losing money on there already massive deadts becuase they desided to do it the cheap way witch ended up costing them more becuase that happend when ya try to be cheap, goverment still hasnt learnt.

        5G is completely unrelated to NBNCo. You literally have no clue.

        And your evidence for this claim is?

        oh right. There is none.

      Just an observation. I have GIGBABIT wireless from telstra wireless. One of those m1 nighthawks from netgear. Im about 2 blocks up from a tower. If I'm d/l ing a movie, i can and do frequently get 1gb/s d/l. Even when its 'slow' my net 'chugs' along at about 500 mbps. So yea. Wireless is awesome. We just need to shitcan the failure that is NBN and BUILD MO TOWERS.

    Just moving into a place with fttn. I decided to go with a 50/20 because it's pretty far away from the node and I'm not even confident I'll get these speeds.
    Fortunately my local Wisp is putting in a tower nearby, so I might be able to get onto them

    Cheaper 110/20Mbps tier sounds good to me. Or is the 110 a typo?

      No, that's the basic idea: halve the upload (because not everyone on 100/40 uses it) and offer slightly faster download, for a reduced upfront cost.

    If I could get 40mbps upload, I would so take advantage of that aren't just for gaming needs. Just simply when I make a video on my phone, it's recording in 4K and therefore the file is huge and so when I want to upload to the cloud, it takes a very long time. Keeping an eye on my residence via online cameras. So many uses that are going to become more important. Just more head-shaking of this service.

      Something people dont consider with the upload is the lack of contention for the bandwidth. One of the shortcomings (and this is on the ISP's, not NBNco) is that in peak usage too many people are downloading data so the lanes are full.

      Only for milliseconds at a time, but it creates the lag we all hate. Think of it as a full freeway with your data trying to merge from the on ramp. It needs a gap to merge into so in peak periods it can be difficult to find that gap as you're hitting the ramp.

      Because relatively few are uploading data, you dont have the same congestion of traffic so you dont get those delays in the data finding a lane. So you effectively merge straight from the on ramp of your data freeway, without a need to wait for a gap. Its becomes a different problem - you have a lower speed limit rather than a traffic jam.

      Which gets to my point, which I've suggested several times in threads like this. Give more upload bandwidth, or better yet, let the user determine the split. When someone is in a position like you, it would be nice to be able to tweak it to a 70/70 split, or even a 40/100 split so you have more speed available to you when you need it.

      The ability to change your bandwidth split on the fly would be so much more beneficial to the end user, and open the option for a lower total bandwidth to help with other costs. Its a win/win.

        That's actually a great idea, being able to change bandwidth split.

        I'm pretty sure the cost of upload is way higher than download for some reason. That is why previous symmetrical line on ADSL2+ is very costly and fibre 100/100 lines are super costly as well.

        That is why they want to reduce the upload to 20mbps to reduce the cost, which I believe is a huge margin since they can give 110/20 for cheaper price than 100/40.

        But I am not happy if they restrict 100/40 to only businesses because content creators/graphic designers will need the upload for their work.

        Last edited 05/08/19 3:05 pm

          Its not. Its all just data moving to and from the exchange. The RSP's buy a certain amount, somewhere around 200 Mbps (might be a touch less), which is enough to handle all the traffic. When you're using your connection as much as you can, you arent actually using it 100% of the time.

          Data travels in bursts and there are gaps between them. Those gaps get filled by other users doing their own stuff until eventually there are no more gaps. Thats when you get congestion and lag as your data then has to wait a few milliseconds for a gap to appear.

          The same thing happens in reverse with uploads, its no different.

          From the RSP side of things, they just care about that 200 Mbps total. The data travelling to and from the exchange is secondary. Right now, that 200 Mbps is enough to keep the congestion to a minimum and they dont really want to buy more than that as its a) expensive, and b) wasted for 20 hours of the day.

          Which was a second idea I had. Let the RSP's buy extra bandwidth just for that peak window. So they can top off the default 200 Mbps with an extra (say) 50 Mbps for 3 or 4 hours and ease the congestion during the peak hours. It wouldnt take much more to remove congestion at all, because of how data moves about. And its minimal cost to the RSP for maximum benefit to us.

          Either of those ideas are better options for us and the RSP's than what they've suggested so far.

        I think that's a great idea for more technically minded users, but the average person would be confused. For example, I can't imagine my Mum or Dad making an educated decision about what their up/down speeds should be. They'd just take whatever advice the seller gave them.

        No reason *not* to take that approach, I just think they're better selling the current plans and adding an "advanced plan" where you can set the up/down limits yourself.

          The average person isnt interested in changing it, so is going to stick with the (likely) default of a 100/40 split. So yeah, the idea wouldnt be for them. Right now it eouldnt be for me either, I'm happy with a 100/40 split. It serves my purposes for now. In the future, I might want the upload to be higher though.

          Thing along those lines is that an idea like that needs to start somewhere. An advanced plan would serve that purpose. If it WAS an option, and an effective one, eventually the average person would be tweaking it on the fly, or perhaps it could even happen automatically as others build software to ease the hassle.

          Its just an idea I've formed over the last couple of years as people isolate the debate to just the download limit of 100 Mbps. Thats not the whole bandwidth you pay for, its the upload as well, so if someone starts considering the combined total more, the debate might change and we end up with something more positive overall. I think part of that would be the ability to move the split if you wanted to.

            It's not a bad idea. And I think if you have a provider with a good usage meter/bandwidth monitor you could get a good idea of what you need based on your actual usage. I'm using 100/40 and I know I saturate my download at times (YAY 20GB game downloads), but I couldn't tell you whether my upstream utilisation is anyway near the max of 40 or whether it's more like 5 or 10.

            For that matter, while I do manage to max out my download it's certainly not *all the time*. It'd be interesting to know what my average utilisation actually is. Maybe I don't really need 100 mbit down either.

    Honestly, sometimes I would like a time machine just to go back and punch whoever first suggested selling our nationalised telco right in the fucking nuts.
    Imagine what we could have had, if people had just looked forward, rather than their pockets.

      His name is Paul Keating, just so you know :)

        I could have sworn Telstra was sold by John Howard's government.

          As much as I love Johnny, I have to admit that you are right.

          Keating had plans to privatise Telstra as far back as the late 1980s. He would have done it differently (privatised the retail half but kept the infrastructure half) and it wouldn't have been the colossal clusterfuck it became under that rat bastard Howard.

    I am just a regular residential user and I regularly max out my upload bandwidth. A decently priced 150/100 plan would be something that I would pay extra for as long as it is reasonably priced.

      Aussie Broadband offers that, as long as you have an FTTP connection. Don't know if you'd consider it affordable though.

    At the end of the day 100/50 should be normal for internet access and only charged at a reasonable fee. Internet at the moment is just a general overcharge considering that the only way to get useful TV these days is online in general and your're paying for that in general as well.

    I have enough problems streaming already with a 100/40 plan due to high latency outside Australia (seriously 170+ ms just to LA which makes a lot of stuff unplayable), I can't really afford to have them halve my maximum upload knowing I won't get that 20Mbps up afterwards on FttN.

      High latency won't affect your streaming, as data is buffered. 170ms is fark all when you think about it. All the streming services has to do is buffer the data in advanced. If you are having issues streaming from overseas services, there is something else wrong with your connection. I regularly stream content to my friend in Finland from my Plex server, on 40mbit, with a greater ping than 170ms and he has no issue at all. High latency will affect online gaming, but not streaming services.

    I wonder how many people on 100/40 plans actually get the full 100 Mb/s speed for downloads? If the connection can't sustain that (either due to the connection tech, ISP not buying enough bandwidth to the POI, etc), then a theoretical 10 Mb/s increase is meaningless.

    At that point, all that is being proposed is halving the upload speed.

      Of course you won't get the rated 100/40 all the time if you are using it max all the time, but myself on Superloop find I get it pretty well much all the time when I need it.

      Right now, speedtest.net shows I'm running at 95/35 which I consider close enough to the limit. You never get the full speed for a range of reasons (distance, data corruption, etc) so over 90% should be seen as full speed. But I get those speeds most of the day.

      If I remember, I'll check again about 7pm and see what it shows. That'll be far enough into the peak period that any congestion will show.

        Not really anything to do with distance and data corruption when on HFC or fibre to the house. My cable connection with telstra used to give 113mbit nearly all the time. The same cable when switched over to NBN, using newer tech (DOCSIS 3.1), only gave 95mbit. It is more to do with bandwidth allocation from the RSP. DOCSIS 3.1 can support up to gigabit speeds, and fibre even higher that gigabit.

      Same speeds at 7:30 pm. If there was going to be any slowing down, now would be it.

      So for me, nothing to complain about.

    Just for once, I would like to see NBNco announcing an increase of delivered speeds (at reasonable prices) rather than continuing to artificially choke the market where it can, and physically choke connections due to poor technology choice.

    I would just like to have internet where I can play fighting games online without bringing shame to myself and my country. I don't even bother anymore.

      There's not much the NBN can do about your latency if you're playing against people in the US or Europe. Short of towing Australia across the the Pacific, there's not much that will help.

        The absolutely theoretical best we can do is 40ms from Sydney - Los Angeles. IMO, we should have the technical capacity to make Australia to Los Angeles under 100ms in the next decade or so.

        That doesn't mean its happening anytime soon though of course.

    We believe there is still a reasonable segment of the residential market that want the 40Mbps upstream speed, particularly given the popularity of bittorrent.

    Last edited 05/08/19 4:01 pm

    The only reason why I don't have a 100/50 plan is because it virtually impossible to get that speed where I live. I actually used to be on that plan but had to downgrade when I moved to a different location.

    I think people are making a mountain out of a molehill with the NBN paper. It's been put out there with a whole range of questions. The ISPs have an opportunity to respond to each and every question with informed views based on the needs/wants of their customers.

    They are potential solutions and being put forward as such.

      You should expect the cycnicism...

      Australian broadband had been gimped for years by Telstra applying throttles and stuff because "no one would use it anyway" and "evetyone is satisfied" with their connections. All as a smokescreen to cut costs and avoid upgrading..

      Here we are with what was supposed to be the solution and end this rubbish.. and they are using the same excuses to reduce bandwidth "to save costs" its deja vu all over again (especially ironic since most of the costs stem from the change of roll out plans.. which havebeen all but completely dismissed under the rug now...) Going back to the same problems because that was the "status quo" is NOT a solution..

    Just wanted to drop in and say I immensely appreciate the headline

    Last edited 06/08/19 12:15 pm

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