by Bill Morrow
OPINION: BUILDING a national broadband network is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity - and an initiative of this scale and complexity comes with many challenges.
With one in two Australians now able to connect to the NBN network through a service provider of their choosing, there has been a lot of questions about why some consumers are not getting the internet speeds they expected.
There is usually one of two reasons for this.
The first is the consumer being unaware of the speed options available to them or how the maximum allowed speed is typically not guaranteed and can vary depending on a number of factors.
The second is due to the way the network is designed and whether it is operating properly.
This latter reason becomes a bit complicated as the network is like a three-link chain and each link can affect the speed.
The first link is the equipment and wiring in the home, the second is NBN's access network and the third is the service provider's network.
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More recently, one of the more commonly discussed reasons for slow speed is the amount of speed capacity between these last two links as it is dependent on what the service providers purchase from NBN.
Service providers pay two charges to use NBN's portion of the broadband network. One allows their customers to access nbn's network and the other determines the collective amount of data that flows between our two networks at a given point in time.
On the latter charge, if the service provider doesn't purchase enough, it can affect every one of their customers in an area, especially in the evenings when many people are accessing the internet at the same time.
Each week, NBN is completing network construction on roughly 100,000 new homes for more than 45 different providers to begin advertising and selling their broadband service.
We know most retailers want to offer a good service at a fair price. Due to a very competitive environment, however, some may feel the pressure to focus more on a low price offer that comes with a best effort on speed.
To be clear, this is not the case across the board and some service providers are focussed on providing plenty of bandwidth on the network to ensure their consumers receive fast speeds.
This is why it's so important to ask your service provider what speeds are available during peak times so you are aware of what to expect before you sign-up to a plan.
It has been suggested that speeds will improve if NBN reduced or eliminated some of the fees we charge the providers.
The NBN portion of the broadband network was created as an investment for the Australian people and in order for it to remain so we must make enough money to pay for the $49 billion cost that makes it possible to reach every home and business with high speed internet, no matter how isolated or remote this location may be.
The cost we charge service providers to sell data on the network helps us to repay the cost of building the network, which is why we've tried to strike the right balance between our responsibility to make a modest return on the taxpayer's investment while at the same time allowing for a healthy and competitive telco market.
We know there is more that needs to be done to ensure Australians get the broadband service they want and we are working hard alongside our service provider partners to better meet these expectations.
We are committed to listening to the community's feedback, continuing to educate consumers on what they need to know before connecting to the network, and to make improvements to our internal systems and processes so that we can offer a better experience for everyone.
Bill Morrow is CEO of NBN