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NBN-ready? Hold on, there are more hurdles ahead

So your home/business is NBN-ready. You have started receiving flyers from different telcos, all soliciting your business. You have even got a notification from NBN Co giving you a list of ISPs that service your area. If you think you are home and dry, think again.

The mongrel NBN has ensured one thing: there is every possibility that there are insufficient numbers taking up the particular technology that has been allocated to you. And this means your telco of choice may have no plan to suit you.

Few humans like change and when one has been receiving relatively decent service from an ISP, one is highly reluctant to change. That's true in my case; after more than a decade with iiNet, I would prefer to continue with a known devil.

But in this game of dice, the technology allotted to the area where I live is HFC. And iiNet has no business plans for HFC — yet — probably given that it does not make economic sense to have such plans.

Had there been just the one option — FttP — for urban areas then it is unlikely that an ISP of iiNet's size would not have business plans on tap.

But now we have FttN, FttP, FttDP, and HFC in the suburbs and cities and that could well be too many options to cater to.

There is always the possibility that after deciding to switch, I may encounter the kind of technical issues that some have, of being unable to connect at all. But I have been assured that this is less likely in an area like the one where I live.

One cannot expect retail service providers to provide every kind of plan; given the AVC and CVC charges that they have to pay to NBN Co, they will only provide plans that will net them a return. Nobody is in the business to do charity.

Given Australia's relatively small population, the numbers that are allotted to each technology are small. The bigger groups will have choice, the smaller groups less so.

iiNet tells me that I have time until October 2018 to make the switch and that they may develop business HFC plans before that deadline arrives. Then again, they may not.

iiNet provides me with a free VoIP line and I also have four mobile connections with the company which are available only to its subscribers. When TPG bought the company, there were fears that service levels would drop; so far, it looks like TPG realised that iiNet was built mostly based on its original owner's technical nous, and left things as they were.

More bandwidth would be gratefully received at my end; at best, I get 8Mbps down and less than a meg up. Painful at times, but there are places where things are worse.

But finally, when the NBN is available, there is another obstacle to cross.


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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.