With the recent announcements that NBN Co will overbuild much of its fibre to the node (FTTN) network with fibre capable of supporting fibre to the premises (FTTP), it seems that more questions have been raised than answers given, especially for those who’ve already sought a fibre upgrade under the Technology Choice program.

The program, which allows users of any NBN technology to request an upgrade to FTTP, is now in limbo, with the NBN Co website updated to reflect the following:

Update: We are currently not accepting new applications while we continue to enhance the nbn™ Technology Choice program. These improvements are planned to be available from December 2020. Please check again soon.

While this only refers to new applications, the future for existing applications – including those who’ve received an upgrade quote and already paid for it – is far less certain. With Technology Choice upgrades ranging in value from a couple of thousand dollars into the tens of thousands, NBN Co must be sitting in a good amount of customers’ money for upgrades paid for and not yet delivered.

As recently as yesterday, NBN Co was advising such applicants to wait, stating:

In light of the announcement last week regarding fixed-line upgrades being provided at no cost, the nbn™ Technology Choice Program is currently investigating the impacts to our customers and will endeavour to provide customers an update in the next 10 business days.

Considering these customers have already waited for six business days since the changes were announced, another 10 business days seems like a long wait for those with money in the game and little idea what will happen with what they’ve paid for.

On discussion forum Whirlpool, there are many concerns being raised about what happens with the Technology Choice program now:

  • Customers with FTTN who’ve paid for upgrades not yet commenced may be refunded, with applicants told to wait until the announced FTTP expansion occurs, whereupon they can upgrade for a reduced cost. In other words, waiting another few years for fibre when they’d paid to have it within a few months.
  • Customers who’d rather wait for far cheaper FTTP upgrades may be unable to obtain a refund for change of mind, and be locked into paying thousands for something that could – in a year or two – be as little as $1000-2000.
  • Customers in non-FTTN areas (e.g. FTTC, HFC, Fixed Wireless or worse, Satellite) not being able to apply for an upgrade at all for at least two months, with no certainty of being able to upgrade to fibre in future.
  • Existing paid-for upgrades may continue, but as labour resources would have to be split between existing Technology Choice upgrades and a wider FTTP overbuild, those upgrades may be delayed, perhaps significantly.

As for NBN Co, at this stage it’s radio silence.

While many Whirlpool users had reported being contacted by NBN’s contractors within a week or two of paying their build fee, there’s now many customers who’ve paid as much as 7 or 8 weeks ago (myself included) who’ve heard absolutely nothing from NBN Co about scheduling construction, leading to speculation it may not happen at all .. or worse, that they’ve paid top dollar for a fibre upgrade only to have it delayed far further than it should’ve been.

We’ve approached NBN Co for an update on what’s happening with the program, and with many anxious customers waiting for that update, we hope it won’t be long.