When the nation’s biggest telco says it won’t offer 100Mbps Fibre to the Node (FTTN) plans any more, doesn’t that say something profound about the quality of the National Broadband Network? That’s precisely what Telstra has done, which is bad news if you’re in an area with FTTN connectivity. Which is, let us remind you, most of the country.
As reported by Commsday, Telstra’s ditching its 100Mbps plans for consumers on the most common type of fixed line NBN connection, Fibre to the Node. The move also affects customers on Fibre to the Curb (FTTC) and Fibre to the Building (FTTB) connections, but it’s the in the FTTN space that the impact will be most felt, because that’s the vast majority of actual NBN connections across Australia.
FTTC and FTTB could be more capable of reaching those higher speeds, because they use connections that only require copper from the kerb or building respectively, where full FTTN uses copper all the way to your local neighbourhood node, which could be hundreds of metres away.
A Telstra spokesperson told Gizmodo Australia that it was temporarily ceasing sales of NBN 100 plans to FTTN customers.
“We have made a decision to only offer Premium speed (NBN100) on FTTP and HFC for the time being.”
Telstra isn’t mincing words about why it’s making this move, either.
“The reason for this is because a number of our customers on FTTN/B/C do not have connections that are capable of achieving 100Mbps. It is often the case that customers that sign up to these plans will be subsequently notified that they cannot achieve top speed and end up downgrading to a lower plan or leaving.”
The move leaves 100Mbps as the exclusive province of FTTP and Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC) NBN customers. HFC NBN uses the older Telstra cable system laid down in the 1990s, employing a mix of coaxial cable from your home or office to a local fibre node.
NBN Co did also purchase the HFC cable assets of Optus, but junked most of it once it became apparent how bad the condition of Optus’ HFC network was.
Telstra’s spin is that it’s doing to ensure customer satisfaction levels remain high.
“We want to ensure these customers have the best possible experience when connected to our plans and hope to have some news soon.”
According to Telstra, if you’re already on a 100Mbps FTTN/B/C plan you can stay on it if you’re happy with your speeds, but if you’re not on those plans, you won’t be able to buy them for the time being.
That’s not great on a number of levels. There’s little doubt the inferior status of a FTTN connection can lead to significant quality losses even over shorter distances, and this isn’t a move that Telstra’s going to have undertaken lightly. Still, where Telstra goes the rest of the industry tends to follow.
You can right now of course churn to an NBN internet service provider that’s still going to offer you a 100Mbps connection over FTTN, but it seems likely that the number of those plans will dip for those unlucky customers. That’s especially likely as the Vodafone/TPG merger looms and NBN competition shrinks ever smaller.
Or, you know, move to Japan, where 10Gbps plans will set you back less than $90 per month.