All you need to know about the nbn but were afraid to ask

WITH the nbn being rolled out across the Northern Rivers, we decided it was time to ask an expert all about it.

We chatted with John Oomen from Richmond Technology:

What does nbn stand for?

National Broadband Network

Why is it happening?

Because it's the new technology. It's a digital technology. It's the only way to get faster broadband to people's residences and to business. The current technology is limited to 20 megabytes down, .9MB out. The nbn will increase that to upwards of 100 megabytes down and 50MB out.

What do you mean by down and out?

Uploading and downloading. 20MB downloading and .9MB uploading. The differences is, if you are watching TV, say you're streaming TV, it's the first figure that's important. If you're a business, the upload speed is also important. A lot of business now use cloud-based applications and programs.

It's not all about what's coming in. It's also about what they're sending out. So ADSL, because it's such a small number, is .9 of a megabyte,. ADSL is sending a digital over existing copper line and it is limited to a 5km distance from the exchange. Therefore if you live more than 5km from the exchange, it could be so slow, you can't use it.

Do I have to have the nbn?

Yes. It is a Federal Act. The nbn is for everyone, everyone will have access and will have to use it eventually when it becomes available. The old ADSL technology will be switched off. Therefore the nbn technology will be its replacement.

Why is it being rolled out in areas?

The project is so big they can't do it all at once. It means fairly big changes to the system and telephone network we have at the moment.

There are not enough resources to do everything once.

Every individual house, business, address has to be looked at individually. Every person's house has been looked at by the nbn and been classified as having some sort of technology delivered. Each of those houses have to have things changed.

It's just too big to do it any faster than what they're doing.

Will the nbn cost me more?

Generally no. Generally it will be cheaper because the technology we use now needs a phone line coming into the house so there's a phone line rental just to have that copper line running into the house. Then you have to pay for the telephone service whether you use it or not. You still have to pay. On top of that you have to pay for your internet service.

All of those three things together, generally costs about $120 a month.

The nbn service is the other way around and will cost about $60 to $100 a month and will generally include your phone and phone calls.

Most people should see a decrease of some sort if they don't change the way they are currently using their system.

People who have a phone number simply because they need the internet right now may choose to not have a phone number when the nbn comes through because they don't need a phone number to make the nbn work. Therefore it will be significantly cheaper for them.

What about remote areas?

Remote areas will be covered in slightly different ways.

They will be covered either by a fixed wireless and those that don't have access to that will be covered by satellite at the very least. it's not as good a service as if you are connected to the fibre. It takes longer for the signal to go into space and then come back down. It's a physical thing.

Satellite will give a better service than people have now because the satellite the nbn employs is their service.

There is a sky muster service sitting up there owned by nbn.

The current satellite service being used, not nbn sponsored, is a shared service.

Like a satellite being co-shared with Foxtel or one of the others. Satellite is not as good as fibre.

If you run a phone line over a satellite service it lags if you talk to someone. It's a bit like talking ship to shore, you have to wait for a reply to come back. It takes a couple of seconds.

What classifies an address as remote?

The nbn classifies every address as being suitable for a particular nbn delivery.

If they see you as too far away to be effectively connected to fibre or fixed wireless, they will say, the only way we can deliver a service to you is by satellite. Therefore you will be classified as satellite.

How do I find out what my address is classified as?

Simply go to the website and there will be an address checker. Type in your address and it will tell what delivery service nbn has planned for you, when it is expected to be delivered or if it is already available.

Do I have to change provider?

You will have a choice of 165 providers. It's a personal choice.

You need to be comfortable with the choice. The nbn delivery is the same for the 165 alternatives. It's who you're comfortable talking to.

If you're comfortable with your current provider, by all means stick with them. If you feel as though you could change, you have the opportunity to change provided you're not locked into a contract. You need to honour that contract. You can do one of two things. You wait until your contract runs out and then opt to go to new provider.

Should I be wary of any scams or rogue phone calls?

Yes. You'll be getting messages to indicate the nbn service is now available at your premises and if you don't switch in 24 hours, your phone will be disconnected. The thing to remember is you are not pressured to move onto the nbn the moment it becomes available, you have up to 18 months.

The scams are the ones that pressure you into doing something. Report them to nbnco. The best thing is to simply hang up and ignore it.

Most likely it will be a recorded message.

You will get the usual flyers in the mail offering you certain deals.

You will also get three letters from the nbnco, and only three. You will get one letter or email from nbn advising you the service is available. Twelve months later you will get another letter as a reminder you need to move over.

Then just before the service is about to be disconnected and you don't act on the nbn, they will send another letter to tell you the service will end by a certain date. They are the only three letters you will get from the nbn.

They are a wholesaler and they will never try and sell you anything, they'll tell you to talk to a provider.

When the nbn is rolled out across Australia, will it be obsolete by the time they finish?

I think it probably will. It's not the technology that will be obsolete, more the delivery method.

The delivery method is trying to get it done within a certain budget and time frame. The Federal Government is committed to get this done by 2020 and there's not much time left. The initial plan was to get fibre to every premises.

That soon became evident it was too expensive and would take too long.

It was because someone didn't really know how to add up. It was rolled out initially in Ballarat and they realised the budget they had wouldn't work.

They had to find an alternative because they couldn't afford it.


  • nbn service will be rolled out in Casino in February
  • Don't panic, you have 18 months to sign up to nbn
  • Ignore phone calls telling you that you only have 24 hours. They are scams
  • You can choose to go with your current provider or a new one, depending on whetehr you are locked into a contract
  • The good news it the nbn will be cheaper and faster except for remote locations where they may have to use satellite to connect to the nbn.