The original promise of the NBN was fibre to just about everybody, but politicians of various persuasions saw to it that this didn’t quite happen.
Fortunately, now, there’s a plan for NBN Co to get fibre internet available to most Australians, whether they choose to take it up or not. With hundreds of thousands of Australian properties to be passed by fibre, most metropolitan and regional households will likely be able to upgrade to fibre merely by seeking a higher speed plan.
Despite this, the demand for fibre upgrade quotes has skyrocketed; ABC News reports that tens of thousands of Australians have sought fibre upgrade quotes last year, including 8,000 in the past week. That’s roughly one quote every 1.26 minutes.
With 1.5 million Australians already enjoying a full fibre connection, it’s not hard to see why more wouldn’t want the same experience. Unlike most other NBN connection technologies, fibre is reliable, works in a blackout, and isn’t generally affected by poor weather, degraded copper in the ground, or other nonsense.
Until recently – November last year, to be precise – even getting a quote for a fibre upgrade cost money, some $330. Thousands of people paid that fee and – like us – many of those went ahead with the paid upgrade pathway to full fibre to the premises.
However, since the quote became free in November, some 35,000 further Australians have sought quotes, but the colloquial experience is that the automated quotes provided by NBN Co are a little on the more expensive side for the same property.
Our neighbours, for example, should be able to take advantage of the fibre already hauled to the pit between our two driveways, and yet they were quoted many thousands to upgrade to fibre. This, when the hardware costs should be under a thousand dollars, and factoring in a little bit of labour to install the lead-in and internal cabling, the total cost should be no more than $2,000 or so. Instead, the quote was nearly double.
NBN Co reports that only around 1,250 households have gone through the entire fibre upgrade process over the last five years, and there are around 400 such builds in progress at the time of writing.
Some customers wait many months for their upgrade process to go through. We waited just three, from application in August to ready to use in early November. While we paid around $5,000 for the upgrade, many Australians are about to get that same service effectively for free.
Dozens of suburbs across Australia have been identified for a free fibre upgrade, provided that they pay for a higher speed plan that will actually use the capabilities provided by said fibre.
We understood – and ABC News has confirmed as much – that fibre is already being laid in streets in the eligible suburbs, and while it isn’t clear exactly how customers can seek an upgrade today, that process will soon be announced.
As we reported earlier this month, it’s likely to involve some form of minimum commitment to the higher cost / speed plans, or some sort of reimbursement fee if customers downgrade from higher speed plans within a certain time.
Are you in one of the suburbs to be upgraded? Let us know in the comments whether you’ll be opting for a higher speed plan.