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Tuesday, 27 September 2016 01:30

NBN Co 'overdoes it’ with new stats and double entendres


Someone is frisky at NBN Co, obsessed with "doing it" alongside reporting Australia’s "love affair with the Internet is growing".

Unable to capitalise the word Internet properly, and seemingly with only one hand on the keyboard, with lots of talk about how "we do it in bed, at work, in the kitchen, the bathroom and in front of the TV", someone at NBN Co is very excited about the latest stats, facts and figures thanks to NBN Co’s new "detailed and extensive nbn Broadband Index" study.

My take on NBN Co’s media release is firmly tongue-in-cheek, there appears to be a lot of obvious things being reported as if they are incredible revelations. There’s also a link to the full report at the end of the article – check it out for yourself.

But first, there are, of course, people who now say that Internet can and should be spelled with a lower case ‘i’, but whatevs, it’s totally not amazeballs in my book. Soz. And no rofls, just a WTF. Internet, not internet. NBN too, not nbn, but hey, I’m not a corporate branding expert.

In any case, NBN Co’s new ‘nbn Broadband Index’ not only says that it’s expected "we’ll spend an additional 22 more days on the Internet than we did two years ago’ but that, correspondingly, it "confirms that Australians of all ages and in every state and territory are spending more time online".

Of course, if EVERYONE actually had access to a real NBN we might spend even more time online, which is confirmed by NBN Co’s statement that "those with access to the nbn network are the greatest users, and the biggest increase is people living in regional areas, accounting for a whopping 1.7 hours more per day, at home during the week, than they did before".

That could potentially be because more rural users have access to more satellite Internet that isn’t the equivalent of 128kbps on the previously glacial satellite connectivity options, but hey, that’s just a guess.

NBN Co then goes on to state that, "in 2014, people in metro areas spent around 4.6 hours online on weekdays and 5 hours a day on weekends, now they spend 6 hours on weekdays and 6-and-a-half hours on Saturday and Sunday".

Then we’re told that if you "move away from the metro areas and the change is even greater, internet users went from 3.9 hours to 5.6 hours per day during the week and 4.2 to 5.4 hours on weekends when connected to the nbn network."

If I was to guess, without even reading what the next paragraphs of NBN Co’s media release are, there’s Netflix nowadays, and Stan, and Presto, and ever more stuff to do online.

Let’s see what Kelly Stevens, NBN Co spokesperson said.

Stevens said: “Using the internet has become part of our everyday lives and online multi-tasking is the new norm.

"Most of us are getting online when we open our eyes in the morning and before we go to sleep, while a quarter of us (28%) hit the internet when we wake in the night. Almost three quarters of us (73%) do it while watching TV, a third while cooking (34%) and some of us have even confessed to being online on the loo (33%).

“It’s unsurprising that those aged between 18-24 are online most throughout the day, followed by the millennials, then 35-54 year olds, with the Baby Boomers bringing up the rear. Families with children are the biggest users of the internet overall.

“While the internet is a great tool for communicating, how we do that depends on when we’re born.

“Email is most popular for Gen X and Baby Boomers, while those aged between 18 and 34 can’t get enough of social media such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram to stay in touch; Social media is still popular with the older generations but Gen Z and Y scored more than 90% when it comes to usage.

“Gen Z are also keen on instant messaging platforms such as Facetime, Snapchat and WhatsApp to communicate. And about half of all of us are making video calls using platforms like Skype and Facetime,” Stevens said.

I guess all of these things are just observations of the obvious by people getting paid a heck of a lot more money than me to make these obvious observations. Anyway, back to the NBN Broadband Index. we come to yet another obvious observation.

We are told that, "while we’re all online more, those not connected to the nbn network are less satisfied with their internet experience than they were in 2014, which is particularly true in regional Australia".

Well, blow me down with a feather. Those not connected to the NBN network are less satisfied. I could have told you that for free, and so could have you, whether you are connected to the NBN or not!

But there’s good news. We’re told "the nbn network is levelling the playing field, with nbn-connected households across both regional and metro areas significantly happier than non-nbn-connected households".

Perhaps if NBN Co spent more money paying installers and less money paying obvious observation report writers we might have more NBN faster and more happier people faster. You really can’t make this stuff up!

Want to know how much more satisfied those on the NBN are compared with those still waiting for NBN Co laggards to get DOCSIS 3.1 out of the trial phase and getting more FTTN and FTT-ANYTHING up and running stat?

There’s no surprise whatsoever to discover that "people on the nbn reported being 28% more satisfied with their uploading speed, 29% more satisfied with their downloading speed and 26% more satisfied when it comes to reliability than those not on the network".

This is torture for those stuck on ADSL2+. Someone is getting paid to write press releases to make fun of the poor saps (i.e you and me) stuck on 20th century technology.

“People on NBN are happier” is my made-up NBN spokesperson quote. Actually, it’s not made up, it’s basically what they’re saying. “People not on NBN are hopping mad at NBN Co for not delivering” is my made-up quote on behalf of the people of Australia.

There’s more information about how important a good Internet connection is.

NBN Co’s media release states: “nbn network-connected consumers also rate their internet access significantly more important to achieving their occupational goals. In particular the impact on regional workers is substantial compared to non-connected regional users with the greatest impact seen in the area of efficiency and productivity on the job".

Kelly Stevens, aforementioned and aforequoted nbn spokesperson, pipes up again and says more obvious things by stating: “There’s no doubt that the nbn network is truly bridging the digital divide between metro areas and those outside. Our research found that nbn connected regional consumers find the internet a far more empowering tool for job productivity and professional development, and they’re more likely to say it’s vital to their job or business.

“In addition to the internet being crucial for work related functions, people in regional areas also use it far more to connect with their community and to shop.

“While nbn connected and unconnected consumers spent similar time online two years ago the gap has widened over the past two years with nbn connected consumers spending more time online than they did in the past and doing more things.

“As we move further into the digital age fast and reliable broadband will be vital in areas such as business, health, education, entertainment and leisure.

“Currently more than three million homes and businesses can connect to the network across Australia, but as that number grows and we head towards our goal of eight million connections by 2020, the positive impact of the nbn network will become more evident,” Stevens said.

One newsworthy thing about this report is that 10,348 Australians across metropolitan, regional and remote areas including those connected to the nbn network and those not connected were surveyed.

Normally such surveys talk to approximately 1000 people, so the fact NBN Co decided to talk to tens times the usual number of people to prepare this report is something different and not an obvious observation, simply because it wasn’t expected.

NBN Co’s detailed, 46-page full report including graphics is here - link to Dropbox for the PDF can be found at the bottom of the linked page.

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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