What's life really like with the NBN?

NBN Co says there are now just under 1100 premises passed in Willunga and almost half of all premises have signed up for an NBN service.

Image by G Meyer  / http://www.flickr.com/people/kainet/ (Creative Commons).

Image by G Meyer / http://www.flickr.com/people/kainet/ (Creative Commons).

Willunga, a one-hour drive south of Adelaide, is a rural town that was announced as one of five first release sites for the National Broadband Network (NBN).

It has now been on the network for over 12 months, with the NBN switched on in September 2011, covering 940 premises.

NBN Co says there are now just under 1100 premises passed in Willunga and almost half of all premises have signed up for an NBN service.

Computerworld Australia spoke to three business owners in the town about their experience with the NBN.

The Alma Hotel

Melinda McCauley from the Alma Hotel has had one of the most difficult transitions to the NBN.

McCauley took advantage of training sessions for the network to learn about the benefits of high-speed broadband and potential drops in phone and broadband costs.

She was previously using a USB-connected mobile broadband modem for Internet access and now has three NBN plans with NuSkope – two for residential premises on 12Mbps and a 100Mbps connection for the hotel, which provides free Wi-Fi to customers at around 70Mbps.

McCauley has experienced several outages on the NBN. She has a VoIP line on the NBN for the hotel and was unable to make and receive calls for several days due to an NBN Co update, which she says she was not informed about.

NuSkope’s CEO, Michael Blake, posted on Whirlpool about the problem.

“What my customers and I myself want to know, WHEN do NBN plan to get their act together? It better be before the phone lines all get cut here in 18 months because how do NBN expect business to run at all without phone lines? Let alone for a 3-4 day wait for a tech to come out. Even Telstra is faster,” he wrote.

“This is my second PLEASE EXPLAIN to NBN this year in regards to outages, if the network is going to be this unreliable perhaps they need to hire a few more techs just like Telstra has to cover the issues with their network that’s not even 10 per cent built yet and already failing customer’s needs.”

Blake said over 80 per cent of the NBN faults in Willunga had so far been due to remote firmware updates that failed.

NBN Co told Computerworld Australia a scheduled firmware upgrade of the UNI-V or voice port was carried out in October after technical engagement with and notification to retail service providers.

“During the upgrade an issue arose that affected a handful of voice services offered by one service provider, and NBN Co worked with the provider to minimise the disruption and resolve the issue,” a spokesperson said.

The Alma hotel also experienced an outage when a painter at the hotel damaged the fibre connectors in the hotel, which took around three days to get fixed.

The two outages occurred at busy times for the hotel – one in the lead-up to Christmas and the other around Melbourne Cup.

“So we had quite a few people say ‘we haven’t been able to reach you – what’s the problem?’ It does have an impact on our business,” she says.

Despite the problems, McCauley says she likes being on the NBN and puts the issues down to teething problems.

She says she’s saving at least $100 per month on phone costs alone. In total, the saving is around $200 a month, factoring in phone line rental costs and cheaper calls.

“Also, now that we’re able to run the extra service of Wi-Fi for our customers that we weren’t doing before. Because Willunga is a fairly small country town, it has a big tourist element, so being able to offer [that to customers is good],” she says.

Tags National Broadband Network (NBN)NuSkopeTelstraWillunga

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Bruce H


How come they have had to keep a T$ copper line? Is that to keep the same phone number - doesn't T$ allow porting?



Its a Telstra condition, another good reason to shop around and find a better service provider

Another Danny


Sounds like both OzFeathers and EveryDay Marketing Solutions both chose to keep a landline rather than using the NBN for voice. This appears to be successful Telstra marketing. Unfortunately. $20-$30 / month = $240 - $360 wasted annually.



'Chose' could just mean they are currently still in contract with Bigpond/Telstra, and didn't want to pay a potentially large break fee.

It could also mean that they're not aware of alternate ISPs or their offerings.

Ultimately, it reduces Telstra's competitiveness on the NBN and it will be interesting to see if this add on price continues once the copper is removed (a charge for UNI-V port perhaps?).

Abel Adamski


Thank you Stephanie for publishing real world experience warts and all with a balanced article. Good to know warts and all, remember it is a trial site and lessons will have been learnt, that is what trials are about.

Abel Adamski


Another Danny
Read the article
"Lodge is paying around $20 to $30 more for his NBN plan than his ADSL as Telstra requires him to still have a copper phone line."
Lodge is paying around $20 to $30 more for his NBN plan than his ADSL as Telstra requires him to still have a copper phone line.

“That’s one thing that I’m a bit disappointed with,” he says. “There are no packages without that. We never used that home phone before because we’ve got mobiles, but we had to have it to get broadband.”

"Like others, Sanders says she is paying more for her Internet, but she is receiving a greater download limit. Previously paying $29.95 a month, she is now paying $49.95 a month and also has a phone line on the copper network with Telstra."

"She says she’s saving at least $100 per month on phone costs alone. In total, the saving is around $200 a month, factoring in phone line rental costs and cheaper calls. "

Rural Australia often has no choice for mobile but Telstra, especially in areas covered by Wireless NBN.
To get a halfway reasonable mobile pricing structure it has to be bundled with a landline - alternative pay a fortune for mobile calls.
In Rural areas mobile is essential.

Telstra will not offer Wireless NBN untill mid 2013, even then though Copper rental compulsory aspect of the bundle for better mobile pricing.

This compulsory Phone line rental for decent mobile plans will definitely discourage take up of the NBN for light users, plus the hassle of changing their email address.

As Telstra is the major Mobile Provider with the best service, especially rural often the only one (Thanks to Govt subsidies) , this impacts big time on rural NBN takeup. (Friends face just that issue and are big mobile users ).
Also impacts in towns and cities for light Internet users that are mobile especially heavy mobile users. Definitely impacts substantially on take up rates.
Those rates will unfortunately be ammunition against continuing the NBN as is by the Coalition - crippling our future for ever, it is the ONLY chance we have.

Odds are Telstra will end up being give "The NBN" to finish and run with taxpyer subsidies costing us billions over the years for a second rate service that will charge like wounded bulls and seek to handicap any competing RSP as with their Fibre and top hat products



"Sending files of any size was an arduous process on her dial-up connection, which she was using until around 2010 when she was finally able to connect to ADSL.

With only 5GB of data, she frequently exceeded her limit, despite not downloading large files or streaming videos.

Oz feathers is now on an Internode 12/1Mbps plan."

A 12/1 plan is slower than ADSL2 speed.

Abel Adamski


ADSL2+ is up to , upload and download speeds attained on ADS2+ not mentioned, average dowstrean speed Aust wide is 6Mb.
Note upload was the issue, better and stable

Abel Adamski


Steph, just a tad disappointed.
There is actually over 44% of NBN users there on better than ADSL2+ speeds, yet we quote 12/1 users with the exception of the pub



I would be choosing a plan with a higher upload speed if they want to upload video. 1Mbps is paltry for HD video these days.

Gavin Fielke


When thinking about the potential for the Coalition winning the next election and changing the NBN to FTTN I calm myself by saying that it would make sense for them to backflip and keep with FTTP if they are hoping to win the election after that as well.

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