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How poor quality NBN is negatively impacting small business retailers including newsagents

Mark Fletcher
October 20th, 2017 · 24 Comments

The National Broadband Network (NBN) being rolled out in Australia today is not the NBN Australians were promised during the election campaign when it was first pitched.

Instead of (fast) fibre to the premises as was initially rolled out under the Labor government, for some years now under the Liberal/National Party the NBN rolled out has been Fibre to the Node, which relies on the old copper network to get data from the Node to the Premises.

I have the old NBN at my home, the original NBN, NBA fast. It is fast.

I have used the new NBN, let’s call it NBN slow in multiple locations. It is noticeably slower.

While plenty of pro NBN slow people say, there is no issue as most people use the NBN to watch entertainment or use social media.

A fast NBN is key for business productivity. With the amount of data flowing between businesses, websites, suppliers, speed is an issue in commerce today. Slow speed = a less productive experience. This is how NBN slow is an inferior product to the original NBN, it is how what is being rolled out today is hindering businesses.

Beyond retail and in businesses like my POS software company NBN speed is key to overall business productivity. Every day we see examples of the cost of NBN slow and the negative impact it is having on small business.

There is no denying this. A read of the tech specs of the two NBNs leave no possible conclusion than that NBN slow is slower. I say this is bad for the economy.

Globalisation has been a push by politicians for decades. Globalisation only works if all in the party have the same tools and are on equal platforms. Australia at the globalisation party is not on the same platform. It is on a slower, second-rate, platform.

This only came about so one side of politics could defeat the other, by using an argument many in the street would not understand. Unfortunately, it is the many in the street who will suffer consequences for years to come from NBN slow.

The technical platform for NBN should not have been a political decision. It child have been a technical decision, on merits, focussed solely on what is best for Australia.

The impact on small businesses, like newsagencies, will be felt for years to come. Our businesses will continue to evolve, relying more and more on being online 24/7. Plenty will be held back from what they could achieve by NBN slow.

Shelve politics when thinking about this. This issue is about productivity. The cost gap between the two NBNs is minimal, and would have been easily covered by an improvement in productivity.

Looking at the other way, we as a country are paying a high price for a slow service by world standards.

Tech experts elsewhere do not understand d why Australian politicians decided to switch from a best-practice NBN to a worse than mediocre NBN. I agree with them.


Category: Ethics · Newsagency challenges · Newsagency management · Social responsibility

24 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Warrick Hosking // Oct 20, 2017 at 12:13 PM

    The NBN to my business is no faster than the old ADSL. Great waste of money as I see it.


  • 2 Colin // Oct 20, 2017 at 9:26 PM

    The tech experts need to understand 2 non tech facts :

    – because of the geographics of Aus the original plan was never deliverable at an economic cost
    – when this was realised tech quality was sacrificed to placate geographic politics

    The politicians of both sides need to own up to a wasted investment that will not deliver what both sides promised. They won’t, the blame game will continue.


  • 3 Mark Fletcher // Oct 21, 2017 at 3:13 AM

    Not true Colin. The only reason the original plan was changed was politics. NBN slow will deliver a worse return on investment than NBN fast would have.


  • 4 Colin // Oct 21, 2017 at 8:18 AM

    . The original plan was technically desirable but was not going to result in a commercially viable nbn. It was going to cost $80b to connect less than 10m users. Labour promised caviar tomorrow for the cost of jam. They lied knowing truth would be next government’s problem.

    The coalition then lied by saying the cost problem could be fixed with a technical change. Wrong.

    The original plan was never deliverable outside the metropolitan areas. And residents in metro areas were never going pay a universal rate for the cost of connecting the rest of Australia.

    Be sure Labour will be hatching yet more grandiose under costed projects that politicians will not deliver on. It’s what socialist governments do well world over.


  • 5 Peter // Oct 21, 2017 at 10:17 AM

    Yes, I hear what you say, Colin now look at the Dogs Breakfast Tony and Malcolm gave us. High quality and extremely fast comms are the future. Not what we are getting.


  • 6 Mark Fletcher // Oct 21, 2017 at 10:29 AM

    Colin your numbers and tech claims are conservative party spin. The original plan was deliverable outside metro areas as it also included dateline. It was a pan based on successful overseas models.

    I have the original NBN at home and appreciate the productivity gains I have there.

    We can argue about what might have been What we need to focus on is what we have – a multi billion dollar stuff up by the current government.


  • 7 David@anglevalenews // Oct 21, 2017 at 12:12 PM

    Colin, the fibre to the home could have proceeded in major centres and remote areas could have been serviced by wireless.

    I will refuse to have NBN in my home and I fear for my business comms when I will be forced on to it in my shop.

    Once upon a time we had a government that was interested in nation building, the GPO developed an amazing telephone network that spanned the nation, often having to solve complex geographical problems to do so.


  • 8 Mark Fletcher // Oct 21, 2017 at 12:27 PM

    You only have to look at Estonia, New Zealand and North Carolina to make a few to see the economic value.


  • 9 Brett // Oct 21, 2017 at 2:15 PM

    I was a telecommunications engineer for 40 years. I installed the internet in two nations.

    Colin is correct. The NBN was a disaster from day one, because it was a political announcement not a technical one. It would take decades and billions. Worse it has killed off any and all private investment in the nation. It has put us behind decades and nothing the LNP could have done would have saved it.


  • 10 Steve // Oct 21, 2017 at 2:34 PM

    Whats the answer? The best solution would be for it to be left to private enterprise, that would have been the cheapest and most commercially sound solution. Problem is private enterprise would only install it where it’s cheap and commercially sound, then large parts of this vast country get nothing. So government steps in and we get the usual we were always opposed to it so know we in power we completely change it through design by committee spending other peoples money. SNAFU.
    I always remember the cable rollout of the early 90’s, Kerry Packer who had a large interest in Optus got into an arguement with Paul Keating about the waste in Optus and Teltra both laying cable in the same locations. Keating argued Packer didn’t want competition and was self serving.
    Packer was right a small percentage of the most affluent parts of Australia got double cabling the rest of us got SFA.


  • 11 Mark Fletcher // Oct 21, 2017 at 8:12 PM

    The solutions is government funded FTTP as proposed originally. The independent experts who advised this knew what they were talking about. It would not have been a disaster. The cost would have been easily recovered. It has been nobbled by ignorant politics.


  • 12 Jim // Oct 21, 2017 at 9:23 PM

    NBN was an audacious bid for young voters who did not identify with a political party. Those said voters will be paying the cost of it for years.


  • 13 Brett // Oct 21, 2017 at 9:45 PM

    There were no experts who modelled the NBN, it was a political decision. FTTP would have cost far too much and taken far too long.

    The solution would have been the model similar to the Telstra mutual obligation legislation. The Govt would pay for the installation in the bush and commerce would do the city.

    If we cut bait on the NBN now, we will save a decade or two and speeds would come up.

    If we persist with this unfunded rubbish we will be at a technical disadvantage to our competitors for years to come.


  • 14 Mark Fletcher // Oct 22, 2017 at 1:15 AM

    The technical experts were clear, FTTP for the city and major country centres was the best practice approach. Wireless and satellite can cover the rest. I have FTTP. It is excellent. What has been installed since the change of government is not worth what taxpayers are paying.


  • 15 Colin // Oct 22, 2017 at 7:53 AM

    Glad you are happy. Just wished your FTTP had been provided by an unsubsidised local scheme charged to you. Australia did not need an $80b grand plan to achieve happiness for voting metropolitans.

    Same labour then liberal follow up also contrived another $50b on best practice submarines, again to benefit all. Another sop to metropolitan voters.


  • 16 Joe // Oct 22, 2017 at 2:21 PM

    Isn’t wireless technology improving so reliance on FTTP NBN is not as warranted as before?


  • 17 Brett // Oct 23, 2017 at 8:40 AM

    Joe of course hits onto the elephant in the room, data is needed, at high speed, on the move.

    The digital revolution is to the mobile device, the phone or tablet. The original ALP led NBN plan all but forgot this essential element and the current mob are not a lot better, hamstrung as they are by the NBN legislation that forbids competition – even wireless


  • 18 Brett // Oct 23, 2017 at 8:41 AM

    I note the ABC has belled the cat on fibre as well – $24,000 to run fibre to the home


  • 19 Gregg // Oct 23, 2017 at 9:42 AM

    Brett you are correct, the moment they announced the NBN in Australia, Korea where in the process of trialing 5G. Trials showed quicker download speeds than the NBN would ever achieve.
    We will not get the NBN till late in the rollout and it will be wireless? When I enquired would it be 5G I was meet with silence and told by me provider (Teltra) in does not exist.


  • 20 Mark Fletcher // Oct 23, 2017 at 11:09 PM

    There are excellent examples overseas of what could have been achieved for most Australians. This alone would have been an extraordinary boost for the economy as plenty of governments overseas are discovering.


  • 21 Brett // Oct 24, 2017 at 8:08 AM

    NBN is seeking ‘protection’ from 5G. This Govt owned behemoth is, and will continue to kill our technology for decades to come.

    The Govt must cancel the legislation today. Cut bait on the NBN and walk away.

    We get 5G straight away for mobile data and people who need 100Mbps to the desktop can pay a commercial outlet to connect, should be about $2.5K


  • 22 Subaru // Oct 24, 2017 at 12:37 PM

    FTTC fibre to the curb should be fairly decent now that they have started rolling that out
    Far better than FTTN.
    Basically fibre to the pit outside your house, instead of at the end of your street.
    Also should be cheaper to rollout due to not needing fibre endpoint equipment in your premises.
    Also will be cheaper to upgrade individual premises to FTTP if that is what you really want.


  • 23 Steve // Oct 24, 2017 at 2:25 PM

    I can’t complain about my NBN, maybe when it arrives here in November 2018 I’ll have something to complain about.


  • 24 Steve // Oct 24, 2017 at 2:32 PM

    Kevin Rudd stating today that the NBN was “perfectly planed”, amazing the quality of planning you can achieve on the back of a drinks coaster in the Qantas Chairmans Lounge.


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