After the Morrison government announced changes to the NBN rollout back in September, NBN Co almost immediately put its Technology Choice program on hold. The program – which allows NBN users to pay for an upgrade to Fibre to the Premises – certainly wasn’t the easiest to navigate, with quotes taking anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to come out to customers.
One of the promised improvements while NBN Co reviewed its Technology Choice program was an instant quote process, whereby customers could plug in their address and immediately understand what a FTTP upgrade would cost.
Well, the new feature has launched this week and the news isn’t all good.
While it does deliver on a promise, there’s a bit of a sting in the tail. The estimates it gives do seem to be on the cautious and thus overly expensive side. The process is pretty simple – plug in your address at the NBN Co website, pop in your email and phone contacts, and you’ll receive an email that you can click through to get your customised quote.
Unlike the previous quotes, which were valid for quite a while, these are only valid for 24 hours otherwise they need to be requoted. Some users are finding the online system cannot give them a quote – typically, these appear to be users on Fixed Wireless connections where NBN Co’s automated processes cannot reliably estimate the fibre rollout costs.
NBN Co’s quote generator doesn’t take into account whether a premises might be eligible for a free FTTN to FTTP upgrade in future; though, to be fair, NBN Co likely hasn’t even identified all premises which may be eligible. This means users can upgrade if they wish, but if they don’t, there’s no guarantee of a free / low cost upgrade in future.
Users are informed, though, that such a possibility exists, and its up to the customer to make their own judgement call as to how to proceed.
Whirlpool users have been having a field day with the new quote generator, quickly identifying trends in quoting and coming up with a few theories too. Quotes range from a couple of grand for a very simple upgrade, all the way through to $47,695 for one quote to upgrade an HFC connection to FTTP in suburban Sydney.
Having recently completed a Technology Choice upgrade myself, I thought I’d check whether this would have a positive impact for my neighbours (with much of the in-street equipment now in place). Unfortunately for them, it seems not – our neighbour with an NBN Co pit at the top of their driveway, with a multiport splitter and maybe 15 metres of fibre needed from the pit to their house is still on the hook for just over $4,000 to get FTTP installed.
Some trends are still emerging, but the key takeouts look like this:
- FTTC connections are amongst the cheapest to upgrade – this makes sense, as much of the fibre infrastructure is much closer to homes. There are, however, some outliers here as elsewhere.
- FTTN quotes vary wildly, with some users close to fibre nodes getting pretty reasonable pricing, and those at the other end of the spectrum being quoted over $20,000 (with almost a kilometre of new fibre required).
- HFC quotes seem to be very expensive across the board, likely as there’s little to no fibre infrastructure in the HFC-served areas.
It seems, from the figures Ausdroid has seen, that NBN Co’s automated quoting algorithm is erring on the side of caution and opting for a higher price, to make sure that if users accept the higher price NBN Co won’t be out of pocket. There’s nothing, we suspect, from stopping NBN Co from manually reviewing quotes issued once an order’s placed and dropping the price if there’s savings to be made … however there’s also nothing to suggest NBN Co’s going to do this. It’s all a bit of an unknown.
While it’s good that users can re-engage with Technology Choice to get their fibre upgrades if they wish, the pricing still seems very high. For most users, especially where the ‘need’ for faster than 100mb internet isn’t immediate, they’d be best advised to simply wait for NBN Co’s improvements to roll out rather than paying a hefty premium today.
We’ve sought comment from NBN Co about the new quoting process and how it’s reaching some of its conclusions, but not had a response at the time of writing.