To NBN or not to NBN? That is the question…

Our guest wifi customers have been asking us repeatedly should they sign up for the NBN as soon as it is available at their premise or wait and see what experiences others in their area have before they take the leap?

We were keen to say yes to them as most have dreadful speeds under their ADSL connections, so anything had to be better.

Having said that, we’d heard some NBN war stories from out in the field so we were hesitant to be their guide without first taking the leap ourselves. We’d signed up on the NBN Co’s website for emails to advise when the NBN would be available to our office and five weeks ago (early July) the email was received to go forth and join the NBN. We were excited. We’d had 3Mbps download and 0.5Mbps upload to run the business for years. The NBN was finally going to change our lives for the better and we applied immediately.
We stayed with our current internet provider; they also look after our cloud telephone service and we are comfortable with their service. Our thoughts behind staying with them, although they were not the cheapest for the NBN; was they are easy to get in contact with and reply to emails. They answer their phone and they call you back. They also didn’t have a highly contended service, meaning they didn’t put so many connections on their infrastructure like some of the cheaper providers that the speeds you received were a lot slower than what you paid for.
We knew that once we’d signed up for the NBN and were up and running, if we weren’t happy with the service, we could change providers easily. It just needed to be churned at the exchange. The hard work of signing up had been done previously. We are on a month-to-month plan to give us the flexibility to move if we want to. We signed up for a 100/40 connection with a terabyte of data per month. A few things to be aware, figures such as 100/40 are up to those speeds. This is dependent on where you are located in regards to the closest node if that’s how the NBN is being delivered to your premises. We are about 150 metres from the node so should get close to 100/40 speeds.
We were advised that it will take two weeks to change over to the NBN and that there may be some down time of half a day without an internet connection during the changeover. We were happy with this information.
We were kept in the loop and communicated to regularly on the NBN progress and as two weeks came closer to being up, our ISP advised us of the exact day and approximate time we may expect to be offline. We were prepared. We have a Telstra dongle that was preloaded with data that we always have as back up. We travel with this and use it if we lose the internet in the office. It is worth every cent it costs – about $50 for the device and about $150 for 10Gb of data that you can top up easily online once it is depleted. I highly recommend that you purchase one of these – whether Telstra, Optus or Vodafone – whichever is the best signal in your area. Disaster recovery is imperative. If you lose your internet connection, your office will still function, bookings can be made and emails received.
We lost the internet for about half a day with most of that time being at night and by the time we were back in the office the next day we had the NBN! By lunch time I’d done a speedtest and was getting 94Mbps down and 30.81 Mbps up. It was fantastic.Where I notice the speed the most is attachments on emails – uploading and downloading them – it is so quick – no more going to get a cup of tea and waiting…
Some websites didn’t appear to be any faster loading. Facebook, for example, at times is terribly slow. A lot of this has to do with how many people are accessing Facebook or that particular sites infrastructure at the same time and not due to the speed of our internet connection. So you may get websites that are slow to load – don’t be quick to jump to the conclusion you aren’t getting the speeds you should be. It can be at the website’s end.
Last week (early August) we lost the NBN a few times over a few days for a few hours. We were advised that a Telstra fibre run coming from the Nambour interconnect which our ISP wholesales off Telstra had a fault. We just moved to our trusty dongle and the office kept functioning – not as quickly, but we were still functioning. Since that problem was resolved it has been speedy business as usual.

Information to know:

  • There are approximately 126 points of interconnect around Australia.  What this means is that NBN Co is responsible for the speed of your connection from your modem through to the point of interconnect eg: Nambour for the whole Sunshine Coast.
  • From there, it is your ISP’s responsibility to supply enough bandwidth to carry all the capacity they are selling to get all their customers information/requests out on to the internet.
  • For instance – if your ISP has 10 clients on the Sunshine Coast all on 100Mbps connections, that doesn’t mean that they would supply 1000Mbps backhaul, they may only supply 300 Mbps shared across those clients.  All these connections are trying to get their 100Mbps connections at the same time which is when contention/congestion comes in.
  • Cheaper ISPs tend to be able to offer their product cheaper because they scrimp on the backhaul from these points of interconnect and are highly contended.
  • We didn’t go with the cheapest ISP. We went with a business that we could contact and get answers from quickly via phone and email if we needed help.
  • We took the Teraybte per month data package with 100/40 speeds. Cost per month:  $100 Inc – we had our own NBN ready modem. There is no contract with them so if we aren’t happy with them we can change to another ISP.
  • If you go with the cheapest ISP, e.g. $29.95 per month being advertised currently, what they will be offering is speeds of up to 12/1 with unlimited monthly data, however you may wait months to be connected due to the backlog with them and their pecking order with the NBN and their service may be contended, therefore you may not get anywhere near the 12/1 or whatever speed you signed up for.
  • FTTN – Fibre to the Node – the further you are away from the node, the slower the speed you will receive.
  • Get a 3G/4G dongle from the Telstra shop – or if the coverage in your area is better with Optus or Vodafone get one from them.  Keep it as a backup so that if you lose your ADSL in the changeover to NBN, you can connect to the 3G/4G dongle and your business can keep on running.  You won’t be able to run your guest wifi through it – it would cost you too much.  Keep the dongle handy for times where you do have ISP issues – they happen.
In summary: Are we happy with the ISP we chose? We will keep monitoring speeds and any down time and the cause.
Would we change to another ISP? Maybe, if speeds and down time aren’t great. It is a matter of calling up another ISP and getting them to churn us across – as we are already connected to the NBN the process should be seamless apart from having to change our modem or username and password in our modem.
Would we recommend you signing up for the NBN? Absolutely. But do your homework. Ask around other businesses in your area if they have NBN and how they are finding it. Every area is different. We had a good experience it doesn’t mean you will too.
We are hearing some ISP’s are giving lead times to change to the NBN of three to six months and taking that long.
Don’t go with the cheapest model – they are designed for home-use and highly contended.  You may find you can’t get unlimited data with some of the higher priced models, but get as much as you can get which is normally terabytes. Think about not signing too long a contract or go month to month to start with until you are happy with the service. Leave your options open.
Have a dongle handy – get one anyway even if you don’t go with the NBN. You need to have a back up for your office functionality.
Good luck – my life has been changed for the better with the NBN but it is only early days.

Judy Senn

Director Judy Senn launched Time Out Internet in September 2011. She has over twenty years of IT reseller, hardware and software distribution, sales and business development experience.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button