Those who’ve followed my journey to get decent internet will know it’s been a long journey. From a couple of years living with patchy 4G coverage, it’s been a welcome relief in recent times to find a rental with FTTC, and later, to buy a place with FTTN (that actually performs rather well).
However, I want fibre to the premises, and I’ve been on a bit of a journey with NBN to get it. Unfortunately, that journey has hit a snag in the last week, with NBN Co suspending new applications for the program, and those who’ve applied being told to wait for two to three weeks for an update after NBN Co and the Communications Minister announced a significant change in how fibre will be deployed in future.
A quick recap – over the next four years, NBN Co will roll out fibre deep into those areas previously served by FTTN (which has been one of the most unreliable, variable methods of accessing the NBN). It will stop just short of rolling fibre into each premise that it rolls past, instead allowing customers to “opt in” to a fibre to the premise connection by ordering a faster plan from their provider.
It makes good sense; those who neither want nor need a fibre connection won’t have to pay for it, and neither will NBN Co, but those who do want a connection will pay next to nothing to have it connected, as the fibre will be in the pit outside their house, and it’ll be a simple matter of drawing it the last few meters to the house and hooking it up.
All well and good, but if you’ve already paid NBN Co to upgrade your house to fibre, you might be wondering what that means for you. Well, we explored this yesterday, and now we have a little more information from NBN Co on how these existing Technology Choice applicants will be handled.
Immediately, NBN Co is reviewing the Technology Choice program following the announcements made on 23 September. While that review takes place, no new applications can be made, but those who’ve already applied can continue with the process.
However, for applicants who have not yet reached the build/construction phase – more on this below – they can, if they wish, seek a refund of the fees paid from NBN Co by contacting the Technology Choice team.
Presumably, this will cover those applicants who’ve had a quote, paid the build fee and are waiting for construction to begin, but if NBN Co has started works, it sounds like you’re committed to go ahead.
Given the uncertainty about which applicants might be eligible for discounted (or even free) fibre connections in future, NBN Co isn’t offering any particular advice about whether Technology Choice applicants should go ahead or not.
NBN Co says that it is proactively contacting customers with applications in train to offer further information about options available to each customer.
For me, I’m happy for NBN Co to keep the build fee I’ve paid, provided that it doesn’t drag the chain in hooking up my fibre; ideally, I’d like it in place by the end of the year (with two people working from home, and a home based business to run, we need something a bit stable and fast). Others though, I’m certain, will opt for a refund and will be happy to wait for a year or two for a free/much cheaper fibre connection option.
We look forward to finding out more about what’s happening with the Technology Choice program, and perhaps most importantly, whether those who’ve paid for upgrades (a) will still get them, and if so, (b) will still get them in a timely manner.