The People Selling The NBN Still Don't Know How To Sell The NBN

NBN Co is a black box. A company that -- from the outside -- looks so afraid of bad press that it will put terrible videos and press releases out there to get something vaguely close to a positive story. We don't ask the company questions anymore because we know we won't get answers. Only carefully tailored PR BS designed to throw us off whatever we may be writing.

To be fair, none of this is the fault of NBN Co: it's a massive political football. Senate Estimates hearings are held that go on for days about who said what at the company in charge of Australia's most important 21st Century infrastructure project.

There was one instance where Senators argued with the head of NBN Co about the tweets a PR person had been sending out, accusing her of holding a "political bias". Yes, really. That sounds like an argument idiotic commenters on Whirlpool should be having. Not Senators and corporate executives.

So is it any wonder that the gun-shy NBN Co puts out crap like the stuff on its YouTube channel and on its blog?

The videos they post use words like "silicon status"; "iFamily" "cyberkids" and "genNBN" Surely even people who don't know about the internet think that's on the nose, right?

Then there's the story posted today about kids finding friends over the internet, which is a half-sweet tale about two kids playing Little Big Planet together.

That new "story" posted to the company's YouTube channel this morning was accompanied by a press release that read like so:

Confused? So were we.

The release supposes that Aussies have never heard of the internet before; never knew we could play games on it and tries to build hype over these new discoveries by pairing them with buzzwords like "social", "game changer" and "disruptive". It's endemic of NBN Co these days: boring news prepared by boring people to post in boring places. It turns something insanely sexy -- superfast infrastructure for all -- into something insanely dull.

Many of the ads are charming, like the story of Nonna Paola (above) who wanted to talk to her family in Italy. In her "story", NBN connected a restaurant near here (what?) to the National Broadband Network (I think?) so she could use Google Plus to talk to her family. It's sweet to watch Nonna Paola go nuts over seeing her family on the screen, but it's fundamentally ignorant. NBN Co didn't invent the internet. They didn't invent Google Plus. They didn't invent a cable connecting Australia to Italy for the conversation to take place. NBN wants to make you feel good about the internet it's building, but in truth it hasn't built a goddamn thing.

These ads are bad, and NBN Co needs to stop making them. Maybe I don't like these ads because they just aren't for me, or maybe it's because they're trying to pretend that they actually invented the internet. Either way, it's not endearing anyone to the NBN, and for a government business now hell-bent on winning people over to justify the massive capital outlay, that's a problem.

Fire your agencies and start again: the NBN should be massively exciting, but instead it's being sold to us like we've never heard of the internet before. The NBN in 2015 is boring, and it only has itself to blame.

You want to get people excited about the network? Tell them when it's coming to them. Tell them how fast they'll be able to do things they get frustrated with now. Tell them it will save lives. Tell them it will give Australia something to be proud of again. Tell them the truth.



    The truth (a multi-billion dollar patchwork of mild to none upgrades) just isn't that exciting

      I would say having my connection to the net increase over 33 times it's current capacity is a bit more than a mild upgrade. Also having a piece of fiber optic cable instead of copper strands.

        In the land of unicorns and rainbows maybe.

        There are 26 of us living in a shoebox in the middle of the road and we only have a piece of string for an internet......and gravel for tea.

          Nah, in this world. We are getting hooked up in 3 months. My friend in the next suburb is experiencing blisteringly fast speed. Cannot wait.

            Ha. They must have been on dial up or some bad quality broadband (fraudband). The facts are that a few people will get great improvements but most will get mediocre improvements. I'm in IT (+ a science degree) and looked at the evidence and there is a lot of bad estimating and modelling (i.e.BS) about the NBN. Putting the facts out there and I won't be reading the replies as I know how to get to the truth myself without resorting to opinions. Don't give up Gizmodo on looking at the NBN at least occasionally and good work. Much appreciated.

      It'll be outdated by wireless technology and speeds before it's even halfway through it's roll out. All in all an ill conceived and pointless waste of taxpayers money.

        You're referring to the FTTN model I'm guessing? FTTH won't be superseded by wireless.

        pffft if you actually understood how wireless works you wouldn't be saying that.

        Wireless can NEVER supersede Fttp, it's physics, Stupid! That statement just outlines your
        colossal dimwittery!

        It amuses me that the most common connection inside the house is wireless, the second most common is copper ethernet. Yet fiber is so important to have up to that point. There is a fixation on optic fibre, yet a lot of people seemed to have successfully transitioned from CDROM to hard disk, cloud, wireless.

          Well, it amuses us that technology that works great over short distances (woofwoof) equates to being suitable over long distances.

          Yes wireless is great in the house. I expect 1gbps to be the norm in the future, around the house, over short line of sight distances.

          Are you suggesting we rewire the link to everyone's house to the exchanges with cat 6e cable? With a technical limitations of 100m, why is that relevant to a long distance connection?

          If we have transitioned from CDROM to hard disk, cloud, wireless (bit of a miss mash of totally different technologies there) why is the transition from dial up modem to ADSL to GPON so unreasonable? You seem to be arguing the opposite point of view.

      A multi-billion dollar network of mostly non-existent fibre optic to copper wire connections.

      Last edited 23/07/15 3:12 pm

    Im located near Woolgoolga NSW, a small town of a few thousand people. Still seems to be no firm indicator of when I can expect to see the NBN even via wireless (2016 maybe??). The odd thing is that the areas immediately surrounding the town do seem to have access to wireless NBN, but everything that is presently serviced by ADSL seems to be excluded from accessing wireless. So in other words the wireless infrastructure is here, but they are restricting it at present to a very limited amount of users.

      Sadly, that's the way it has to be. Those who can currently receive ADSL will one day receive FTTP or FTTN.

      NBN can't be expected to provide an NBN wireless connection to entire communities that are slated for a wired connection in the future. They'd have to pay for 2 lots of equipment and installation, making the project much more expensive. And the wireless towers are simply not designed to supply the number of connections required to service whole small towns.

      NBN are doing the right thing by restricting access to those outside the ADSL footprint. Sorry that it doesn't work out well for you.

        Yeah I understand that, its just confusing for most prospective customers when they see those maps with odd areas just outside their location seemingly already covered, but no indication of when the bulk of the town will be serviced. For instance the maps shows our beaches and swamps as being covered.... yay.

        As you say, they are perhaps doing the right thing by restricting access , but the lack of information as to why/when is the problem.

        Last edited 22/07/15 11:51 am

      Why would you want NBN wireless if you have ADSL?

        mainly because of the plans and pricing, and could then ditch landline. Given that Im regional and can only get on services that use Telstra infrastructure its becoming more expensive. Up until recently it was likely cheaper on ADSL for what I need, but my provider seems to have increased their pricing quite a bit last month and at the same time reduced data so Im looking elsewhere but cant really find much to match what I was previously paying.

        I havent done a huge amount of research into it but my inlaws recently got onto wireless NBN at Grafton and seem to have quite a decent plan/pricing. I don't really game that much online so ping isnt so important for me.

        Throughput? Cost? Quota? Reliability?

        Fixed wireless isn't FTTP but its a darn sight better than rotten copper.

        My ADSL2 connection is 4Mbit. NBN wireless is 25Mbit. I'd take wireless up in a heartbeat.

        ... if it wasn't for the fact I'm getting FTTH in October.

    The media muscle behind Fox and their supporters/beneficiaries (Politicians included) will do anything to slow the progress of the NBN to protect their empire.

      Glad they don't care about Tas then. We are getting wired up!

    There is fibre hanging from the wall in the basement of my building. It has been that way since just after the last election. Guessing I'm waiting for them to finish trialling FTTB before they finish hooking it up. Will probably move by then... NBN map says my street is NBN ready...

    Last edited 22/07/15 10:58 am

      Actually as someone who is on the Body Corp in an apartment building, you will find that you need to get your BodyCorp to work with the NBN installers to agree how the building will be wired up. We just had ours done. The NBN group wanted to just put it on the outside of the walls, we made them run it in the ceilings out of sight to every door in the apartment. Now we have issues of people installing it. The ISP NBN contractors just drill through walls, damage common property, and don't follow instructions. It's very very hard to deal with.

        Building manager says they've come in and taken 500 pictures of every point it would go, then never came back. Apparently they were here for three full days taking pictures. The most frustrating part is since they ran fibre up our street, my ADSL sync speed dropped.

        Last edited 22/07/15 1:56 pm

          Talk to your Body Corp. Not your "building Manager"... Unless your body corp is hopeless and have no idea about technology......
          If you are an owner, you have ways to make things better, if you are just renting, you are on your own... :)

            Yea, not in my building. We have commercial suites for ground and first floor, so we have a full time on site building manager who knows everything. Body corp don't know anything at all.

              Ahhhhhh Unlucky! :(

              We all work in IT on my BC. :D so it makes it easy.
              We booted out the oldies who were holding the building back and keeping us in the past.

    Sadly I've given up on it... I know it's being installed in areas that have currently next to no broadband, but I'd love to know what percentage of those people on those areas really care? Call me selfish, but NBN Co would be way more popular if they actually installed it in areas where the majority of people in the area would appreciate having it. Now I'd best go jump in my Waaambulance and be off :-P

      The point of the nbn is to provide access to broadband to everyone, which includes those who can't currently access services... If you've already got broadband, but want better broadband before others with no services then yes, that is kinda selfish :)

    That video is such bullshit;

    A) The 8 year old isn't playing Call of Duty.
    B) Nobody said anything about having sex with the other person's mother.
    C) It didn't show the female gamer getting creepy messages even though she is really young.

    This is what happens when you take a revolutionary infrastructure project and beat it with political single mindedness and ideology until it's a lobotomised husk of its former self. Whatever faults the previous NBN board had, at least they could say with confidence that "Our FTTP network will change the very face of Australia". All the current NBN Co can say is "Our Mixture of Technologies will benefit people... to some extent at least. We're not actually sure how well your connection will run, or when it will arrive, as we can't make any guarantees anymore given the nature of the technologies we're using."

    So instead of promising a future where the sky's the limit, all NBN can do now is rant about technologies that already exist and require no more than about 25mbits per second.

      You mean "Our Mixture of Technologies will benefit Telstra"...

        I wrote big rant reply about how Telstra are a bunch of derps.... and my Telstra service dropped out and I lost it. lol. :\

        Last edited 22/07/15 2:07 pm

      Finally registered for comments - purely so I could upvote this one! Stupid guberment. Wreckin all my NBN's!!!!

      Last edited 26/07/15 8:05 pm

    "Tell them it will give Australia something to be proud of again"

    Can't be proud of FTTN. Lucky for me my area is FTTP, whenever they switch it on that is (Have the cabling on the side of my house and everything)

    Dear Luke.

    FYI its not NBN co anymore its NBN.. i know boring.
    You do release that these ads aren't for us. They are for those not so technically savvy.
    Why you ask? because they make up the majority of people who own property and can afford to pay for the internet.

    one of the lucky few to have FTTP, & have to say we've made a huge mistake not rolling it out.. going from HFC - Fibre was like going from dial up to DSL.

      Booooo Booooo,

      nah, just jealous that you have FTTP.

        As an other lucky FTTP recipient, I have to say, I honestly feel sorry for everyone else.
        I went from experiencing 2Mbps to 99Mbps overnight. It was the greatest feeling in the world, something we all deserve.

          Same here.. went from a 2.5/.4mbit connection to 98/38mbit overnight. I can now work from home properly via citrix, leverage cloud backups and snapshots, transfer large files back and forth between work, use netflix without needing to disable all other internet connected devices in the house, etc..

    Waste of money. Still no sign of improvement. In the end we have little to show for it and a bitter memory.

      What do you mean a waste of money? No money was diverted away from anything to pay for this. It's been costed and will pay for itself then make a profit. If the estimates were off, it'll just take a bit longer. But no money has been wasted.

        Money has been wasted since the plan switched from FTTP to FTTN. A LOT of money.

        It may pay itself off at some point but it's like saying I will take a bus instead of plane. The NBN was more expensive initially but the maintenance was less expensive and potential return greater. We don't have the inside and outs of everything but we can't pretend this wasn't a debacle.

    I seem to remember before the election and a bit after it you writing articles supporting the government and downplaying what they were doing to the NBN so it's kind of hilarious to read this.

    As the Abbott government drags us further and further back into the past... This is late 1990s crap.

      He won't stop until we are in the 1950' sad :(

        So does that mean there will be plenty of gainful employment in local industry and business like making products here, which were later sent off shore to be made?

          Yeah, along with no voting for women or indigenous people and persecution of a huge range of minorities.

            along with no voting for women
            You're about 50 years late on that one, but point made.

          Well if women and non-white Australians are not working as much like in the 1950s then yeah... -_-

    This is because we have softies in the government who are too scard to take the hard line and say "no, this is where we are going and what we are going to give the public". They are too worried about a reputation they think they'll get instead of the one they'll earn by doing the right thing by the people. Cutting back isn't the right thing.. It'll leave us more i debt than a budget built network.

      Puppets aren't allowed to think for themselves :).

    They should show the guys working out on the streets putting in the cable. I get excited everytime i see them working on the next street over from the last. Thinking "ooo it is getting closer to my place!"

    I've just been switched over to NBN. Speeds went from 1.8MB/s to 2.8MB/s - the future is here!

      So you got a pretty low speed plan then I guess?

    It's boring, but awesome.

    The best kind of technology is that which you don't notice. It's just there, doing its thing. You don't need to think about it and that's the way it should be.

    well after speaking to my currently one term wonder local MP my home town wont be getting the NBN until at least 2018 if she gets her way... one year fast than if labour was still in power according to her, nevermind the fact that i spoke with the guys who doing the installation just up the road from me in a new housing section who were going to start working on my town last year if it hadnt been for the election

      One could almost think you were speaking against the economically rational, completely technology agnostic solution being implemented by the Glorious Party which is currently pretending to run our government. To do so is UnAustralian; you're probably a terrorist. Expect your citizenship to be revoked shortly.

      (I live next to a railway line; the NBN has been rolled out on the other side of the railway line. On my side there isn't even an ETA.)

      I'm hopeful that Labor may un-gimp the NBN if they win power at the next election, but given their fixed determination to avoid presenting a creditable alternative, that may not actually happen. Especially as the Coalition still have another year or so to get their act together.

    aww nuts.
    I wrote a bit rant about how Testra can't scratch their own balls without help and how I'm paying a premium for their 'superior service' (cos I have no choice).

    It was then lost due to a drop out with said 'superior service'... hah :(

    Last edited 22/07/15 2:03 pm

    I'm not interested in NBN any more so no harm in not writing about it. It's not coming any where near my inner city neighbourhood and even if it did then the speeds are not exciting. A hacked together hodgepodge of inadequate infrastructure in a bunch of places that I'll never go or want to go is not news worthy. The biggest problem with the current NBN is the asymmetric nature of the up/down speed. We need fast up speed too. Can some of the local governments (City of Melbourne - I'm looking at you) look at fibre networks like the US cities are proposing or is that banned by the NBN too?

      Telstra wants you to pay them to use their copper for the next millennium, so no.

      Last edited 22/07/15 2:43 pm

    Distance to exchange and Telstra/Optus cable coverage was one of the factors I considered when buying my house. I'm a long long way from the exchange but have both Telstra and Cable coverage so speeds are great..

    I stopped caring about the NBN when I realised that the people who run foxtel and the like have more influence in government than I ever imagined.

      I too have cable (and thus am luckier than most) - but the NBN would be a massive speed improvement for me, simply because of the 20x faster uploading. The family photos I've spent the last 8 weeks uploading 24/7, would have been done in a day or two.

      The really frustrating part is that the cable upload speed is artificially restricted (by both Telstra and Optus) because they simply can't be bothered provisioning for more than a trickle. The modem and connection are quite capable of well over 100 Mbps uplink, but instead I have to settle for a paltry 2 Mbps.

        An office I once worked at was limited to ADSL (3M/0.3M) and it was faster to copy a large file to a USB stick, drive to someone's house who had cable, and upload from there. So 2Mbps is great compared to the alternative.

        The company couldn't afford the $10K+ quote given by Telstra for a 2M/2M connection. And this was not in the sticks or anything, but on the Gold Coast, east of the highway even!

        I think you'll find the problem is more to do with contention. HFC is capable of great speeds but you share the cables bandwidth with everyone connected nearby. I'm actually concerned whats going to happen when NBN takes over ownership of the HFC network and starts connecting entire suburbs. At the moment the take up ratio for HFC is something like 25% with most people content to stay on ADSL. Once it hits 100% HFC subscribers the average speeds at peak times are going to plummet.

          Contention isn't an issue when the dozen or two subscribers on the loop are using under 2% of the potential uplink capacity each.

          I have no trouble saturating the 2 Mbps uplink bandwidth that I'm given, but the DOCSIS 3.0 standard uplink channel connects at 30Mbps - and the modem can handle at least 4 of them. The ISP could lift the artificial restriction and allow 30 Mbps uploads trivially, but that's not even a paid option.

    Ahhh boring, geez Luke that's the dream that Malcolm Turnbull has had for almost 22 months now, ie since the September 2013 election.

    While Mal and Ziggy have been getting on with the job of rebooting the national broadband project, they've been waiting for the time that mad fibre-tragics will finally giveup their antics and find something else to kvetch about.

    Not so for me however. Building a national infrastructure project is never boring - challenging maybe, technically difficult definitely, politically confronting always.

    But boring, never.

    Luke, may I suggest you consider the long view on this topic - it's going to take 11 years for the NBN rollout to be completed, and a brief look (400 words) at Australia's telco history will remind us that incremental investment since Federation (1900/1901) has enabled us to arrive at a point where 'Australia will have the largest (geographic), ubiquitous, wholesale broadband network in the world.'

    "Keep calm - completing the NBN will take 11 years" at:

    May be of interest.


    Michael Zerman

      You must be excited that we are now building the biggest white elephant in history.
      We where to get a fully costed plan for $29b for FTTN delivered by 2016. Was that a lie?
      We where to get MIN 25Mbps by 2016 and MIN 50Mbps by 2019 to 90%. Can you give any company in the would supplying a MIN service on wither FTTN for HFC just need 1? Now all we get is an upto 25Mbps once a day even though Turnbull's SOE states a MIN of 25Mbps.

      Yes Tunbull has had 22Mths to build his FTTN which he claimed would take 3 years not 11 years as you say. What job are they getting on with how many people have been connected to FTTN (50?) or HFC (0).

      Hockey ha now said they are paying $70B for the MTM wow $2b less than FTTP

      But lets not forget that the coined the word fruadband for when labor was looking at doing FTTN and now they are lol biggest joke ever.

    I won't see the NBN in my suburban Adelaide neighbourhood for years, possibly even decades into the future.

    DSL + 4G as a failover or when want the extra speed is OK for me at present, but i'd love to have the NBN instead (in any capacity)

    Turnbull does realise that 2016 is next year, right? How is the NBN going to get 95% of homes connected within 12 months? (at speeds of at least 25 megabits per second)

    Last edited 22/07/15 4:20 pm

    Next Abbot will want us to believe there is a god.

      and he's it ;-)

      at 1.5mb even adsl+ is wishful thinking here in the upper hunter...

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