Goodbye Labor, Hello NBN...

NBN "connection boxes" and Telstra T-Gateway™ inside house

For years residents of Palmerston via Gungahlin in the Australian Capital Territory have, in full view of Parliament House, suffered from the first-world problem of extremely slow Internet access. But in a stroke of good fortune, we were connected to the National Broadband Network (NBN) exactly one week before the major proponent of the NBN, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, lost his job at the 2013 federal election.

Although under the Coalition, fibre infrastructure will continue to be built to the "node" (FTTN) or a cabinet that serves a neighbourhood, those who have missed out on NBN proper can expect to have connection speeds that may vary depending on the type of last mile connection from the node.

At this stage, it is anticipated that fibre to the home (FTTH) will not be delivered by the Coalition government except for some 22% of the population which includes greenfield developments and existing NBN Co contracts. FTTN is expected to be provided to 71% of the population by 2015, with the remaining 7% to receive satellite or 4G services as per the original NBN plan. Under the Coalition's plan, speeds of 25 to 100mbps can be expected by 2015 with speeds of up to 100mbps by 2019.

In the meantime, we are now connected to NBN proper. It has certainly improved our connection speeds, but most noticeable is the upload speed - especially for uploading teaching content for my role at the University of Canberra - which previously was so slow as to be almost impossible. But there are a few downsides.

The NBN "utility box" outside
In particular, the ugly boxes inside the house. Apparently in new houses the intention was to have these boxes located in the garage or somewhere discrete, but we were stuck for choice and these are located in the lounge room. The outside "utility" box is located with other services so it is less obtrusive, although much larger than the old copper connection.

But the proof is in the pudding, so to speak. From my Alienware M14 laptop via Wi-Fi, I receive on average about 52-54mbps download speed.

Connection speed test via Wi-Fi

Via Ethernet, the connection is obviously much faster, but having a cable running through the middle of the lounge room is far from practicable.
Connection speed test via Ethernet
And my iPad 2 via Wi-Fi tends to be slower still, yet today it performed quite well with about 25mbps.

But the bottom line is that a 100mbps package hasn't really changed our lives. Even with the XBox and the T-Box connected directly via Ethernet, movie downloads and other streaming content tend to be delivered much more reliably, even if it still takes relatively the same time to commence watching the movie while waiting for the initial download. Most noticeable for me is uploading video lectures to Moodle, the University of Canberra's Learning Management System. Via a 6mbps ADSL connection, this was basically impossible, but now I have much more luck in uploading multimedia content. Aside from this, I am glad I didn't have to pay for the fibre connection, but at an extra $10 per month on top of our previous Telstra plan, it is certainly worth it.