The inevitable progression of Australia’s National Broadband Network from public to private ownership is one step closer today, with the government declaring that the network is “built and fully operational”.

Earlier this morning, Communications Minister Paul Fletcher made the announcement, despite the NBN still being actively built in some areas. Coming into the new year, there’s some 35,000 premises still not connected to the NBN, of which they’re hoping to connect around 30,000 by mid-2021.

The announcement is probably quite upsetting to those who’ve had a bad experience with the NBN. Not only are there 35,000 premises not yet connected to the network at all – almost 7 years after the rollout began – but there’s also almost a quarter of a million premises that can’t reach 25 mbps speeds.

While many – including myself – have had a generally positive experience with the National Broadband Network (I write this now on a 400mbps fibre link), not everyone has been so fortunate. Being stuck with a connection – as many in my part of northern Sydney are – that can’t reach 25mbps is insulting. These speeds were possible on cable networks 20 something years ago across Australia, and that we’ve not been able to deliver these speeds universally with a brand new network is embarrassing.

For its part, the government says:

[The NBN] “is supporting 50Mbps to more than 90 percent of the fixed line footprint and 25Mbps to approximately 98 percent of all premises, with ongoing proactive and reactive programs in place to resolve the remaining lines.”

The 2 percent of premises impacted by shoddy speeds are almost exclusively those on Fibre to the Node connections, which relies on last century’s aging (and not fit for purpose) copper phone lines. In my own suburb, there’s almost daily reports of woeful internet speeds over the NBN, and a never-ending stream of NBN vehicles coming into the area to carry out works … sadly it doesn’t seem that they resolve much, as the complaints continue.

In time, NBN Co has already indicated it will overbuild the majority of the FTTN footprint with more fibre, so that premises desiring faster speeds will be able to get Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) at next to no cost (beyond a more expensive plan).

For now, NBN Co maintains that those who can’t reach 25mbps typically “can access more than 20mbps”, but from my perspective, that’s not something to be proud of.

Whether the speed performance is up to scratch or not, the move towards privatisation seems underway .. whether it will ultimately reach that state is still unclear.

Beyond being declared built and fully operational, NBN Co must past further hurdles, including:

  • A Productivity Commission report, presumably which must recommend privatisation;
  • A Parliamentary joint committee review of the above report; likely to be a rubber stamp if the coalition is in power when it’s delivered;
  • Approval by the Minister (see above); and
  • Approval by the Parliament (somewhat less certain).

What do you make of this? Should NBN Co continue to privatisation? Should it be forced to repair and improve all underperforming connections and get rid of the woeful FTTN/FTTB networks first?

Let us know in the comments.

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    Thinking about the likely future privatization sell off, a serious question comes to mind.
    What will be the future ownership of the direct user paid for connections?

    Carsten Bauer

    I have had good luck with NBN so far until now. My first apartment has fttb and my speeds were excellent 144/48. My current apartment now has fttn but it’s just across the street, but it’s not very stable when it rains. A friend of mine lives in the Perth Hills, very rocky terrain and they only have fttn and cabinets are very sparse, they don’t get good connections. I think ALL homes should have FTTH like was promised when NBN first was announced. Of they had done it right the first time, it might have taken longer but would… Read more »

    Simon privateperson

    To be quite honest, I believe that NBNcons should be required to upgrade our Crappy FTTnothing to FTTP prior to any negotiations with anyone inc. Privatisation. I personally have two NBN connections at my residence simply because I had two ADSL connections in the first place (due to operating websites, game servers, etc from home) and needed two separate connections for “private use” and “server use” otherwise it slowed the connection to a crawl, however even having two NBN connections, I wouldve preferred the current crazy government to have stayed inline with the previous governments NBN plan of EVERYONE got… Read more »

    Greg Exton

    I agree , this NBN has been a debacle from the start , another government discounted utility until nearly useless and I see a redevelopment of the debacle , the builder must be most happy .

    Trent Mcevoy

    This total shambles is an embarrassment to tax payers and Australia now has a system that 3rd world countries would not accept. Well done Tony Abbott.


    Fucking pathetic ngl. I pay $90 a month for internet that not only conks out randomly during peak hours but also cant handle me downloading a game and playing an online game without lagging me to shit. 25mbps PEAK speeds btw. Dont ever tell me this is functioning as intended.


    in some stage I’m question about NBN said 98% household can get 25 Mbps . I live in a suburb which built around 1980s and all internet line is copper. unfortunately when NBN rollout they did not change anything. The only change is the change copper to finer from exchange station to node. But node to household still copper. So, the max speed I can have is 10mbps. (Those word is explained by Telstra technical when I ask them why I only have 10 Mbps). So, I believe most of suburb is full equip with ADSL / copper line to… Read more »

    Rob Gaunt

    I don’t agree with privatisation. This is the first major infrastructure project the people own in many decades and we should keep it that way.

    The internet and its capability should remain in public hands as it is going to continue to be the future of work, home and business. It’s the backbone for communications!

    We should definitely fix the fibre to the node problem (remove it everywhere) and improve performance well beyond current speeds in all areas. We are so far behind the rest of the world in terms of speed.

    Terry M

    Nice to know its built. I have no access to NBN. My best is ADSL2 at 3mb on a good day. NbN comment is that I’m in a wireless area. Thats great with 1 bar of service on the mobile. The 4G backup to my ADSL doesn’t work. And best of all, I’m in the Toowooba City boundary.



    Best I get is 5.5mbps. apparently my plan should get me 45…. Such a huge difference should not be acceptable.

    Terry Anderson

    I’ve had a reasonable experience with 68Mb/s download. But pathetic compared to FTTP speed I’d happily pay for. With a professional gaming son he’d be better of almost anywhere overseas. FTTP would have future proofed our internet as scalability on fibre is far less costly in the future, so bitting the bullet early would have saved so much money in the future. NBN has failed and now given up as “mission complete”. So sad.


    I can’t get 20, and neither my ISP nor NBN will even hear the complaint – so I bet the real numbers of underperforming connections are a lot higher.


    As a pensioner, I can only afford a basic plan of 12Mbps with 588 metres of 50+ year old copper to the node. It is only just good enough to stream SD movie under ideal conditions without excessive buffering driving me crazy. Streaming HD is a waste of time. However, during the November lockdown here in Adelaide, the service was unusable because everyone was home. I surmise that the pipe into the node is just too small. My old ADSL service although sketchy, was at least usable during a prior lockdown! I’m expecting NBN to be crap over xmas period.… Read more »


    The Liberals NBN version was a massive mistake , 98 % of Australians would have had fibre to their home if the liberals didn’t interfere it may had taken a few years more. how unfortunate, allegedly Telstra is lining up to buy the NBN via a subsidiary company , to offer more poor service speeds
    when are we going to wake up

    Jonathon Harris

    If I walk 15 paces forward from the modem and 3 to the side through a door I can’t get a decent signal.
    I have to lean over from my chair and put the phone through the door way to load what I’m reading.
    Oh for the good old days!

    Boulton O'Kelly

    I have been on a 25/5 plan since the start as I wasn’t able to get more than around 18 down a 4 up. Did a random speed check a week ago and I’m all of a sudden getting 48 down and 10 up. I’m not a conspiracy theorists but I find it bizarre that a I got a speed bump on the eve of a NBN tax being implemented on speeds above 25.


    I live 36km from Sydney CBD and can only get the Sky Muster sattelite service – which is very expensive for little data and huge lag. NBN had been a huge disappointment for our household.


    I live 36km from Sydney CBD and can only get Sky Muster satellite service. NBN had been a huge disappointment.

    Peter Maver

    Lot of money to be made in an ASX listing, of course the “expert fund managers” of our super funds will buy it and then by this time next year when Starlink, Amazon and the other offering a minimum of 1gb free internet will be working out how to bury the loss. Just another rip off called the NBN.

    Mr Damian Ladds

    I agree, once privatised costly upgrades will not be done. It will be all about the share holders and company profits. Whilst probably part of Telstra’s plan the government must ensure Tel$tra don’t get their hands on it.


    Mission Accomplished


    Pymble NSW – we have no NBN and it has been pushed back to mid-2021. We have to use 4G Home Broadband which is Okayish at least but in the middle of the Sydney Metro area, this is embarrassing, to say the least. I’ve had better internet in Africa … years ago.


    Privatisation of a monopoly is always against the interests of the public. It’s a licence to rip off a public that has nowhere to go it not to the monopoly. However, in the case of the NBN privatisation and the consequent attempt to rip off the defenceless public might actually end or severely cripple the NBN as mobile and fixed wireless provide equal or superior performance at competitive prices. Here in Perth I was able to choose between (1) connecting to NBN, (2) connecting to a very fast fixed wireless provider or (3) dropping out altogether and just using mobile… Read more »


    One thing that gets left out of these reports constantly is the NBN Sky Muster satellite service, which is supposed to help connect regional areas but is woefully oversold and underperforms consistently. Despite being offered on 12/1 and 25/5 speed tiers, reading the fine print shows that people on that service are only guaranteed speeds in the KILObits and the whole thing operates on the hope that there’s only X amount of people using it at once.

    Al Dee

    I struggle to see any value in an infrastructure that is comprised of such a hodge-podge of technologies. Anyone in the private sector would be nuts to invest in the NBN as it stands. Unless every single home has access to the same technology, it would be an absolute nightmare to somehow pull it together into a commercially viable enterprise. FTTP in every home would be the absolute minimum requirement, so until the network is actually finished, I can’t see anyone in the private sector being remotely interested, unless the government incentivised it heavily, so the taxpayer ends up shelling… Read more »

    5g boy

    We need Free fttp for ANYONE who is willing to pay for the higher speed plans. I have fttc and yet I only have an incoming calls phone line no data plan. As fttc can’t deliver the speed id expect. Nor can it match what I get on 5g. Nbn claim a fttp line would cost me over $3500. With 5g already giving me peek time speeds of 700mbps, and up to 1gbps in off peek, I won’t even look at going back to a hardline unless a few things change. 1. fttp line in needs to be free. 2.… Read more »


    If NBN doesn’t come up wirh a very quick solution to delivering 100 mbps or more, I am afraid people in urban areas will move to 5G modems and the government (or the poor sucker that buys this) will end up wirh a lemon facing similar challenges to electricity companies that refuse to do the right thing and change to offer something of value to the year 2021.


    Don’t like it, MOVE. Don’t like it be thankful you can get it. Don’t like it, go back to reading and writing letters.


    I moved from NBN with rediculous FTTN tech (4 – 12 Mbs with constant drop outs when there is a puff of wind or a drop of rain) to wireless 4G (40+ Mbs). Best tech change ever!!


    Ita a joke
    I’m part of a fibre to the presmises apartment buliding and it’s so on and off snd changeable i just use my phone on 4g. As soon as possible i’m moving to 5g for everything and never looking back. Embarrassing rollout. Ive friends in hkg, usa, and even UK ! with better.


    What I think the Conmunications Ministurd really meant by ‘mission accomplished’, is that it is now impossible for any future Labor governmutt to properly fix the damage wrought on the Labor originated National Broadband Network, by the Lieberal Notional Party.

    Jeremy P Harrison

    The MTM is a massive drag on NBN finances. Not only does it cost some $1B a year more to maintain all those non-FTTP lines, they’re also losing around $700M annually through not being able to deliver desired services.

    Look at fast connections (100Mb+) comparisons for instance:
    FTTP 15%
    FTTB 11%
    FTTC 12%
    HFC 13%
    FTTN 6%

    FTTN always was a poor choice.

    If the NBN is privatised, whatever entity buying it will require protection to ensure revenue – with the extra costs to maintain all those copper connections consumers will be forced to that means high prices forever.

    Karl Goulding

    I’m a manager for a business in Nundah QLD, and I can only just manage 20mbps download lately, I have a 100mbps business plan. There’s 7 of us in an office and it is this abysmal speed 20% of a working week.
    I’ve looked into mobile internet getting similar speeds meaning that the exchange clearly doesn’t have the capacity.


    THE biggest wasted opportunity in Australian history


    I’m perhaps rather lucky, but still not happy.

    I can get 100Mbps, often 106 and never below 90 for long.

    But this is still slower than our old cable that ran at 120…

    And for the slower speed, I get to pay $20 more per month.


    FTTN is really trash. My maxium speed is 28 I can’t over 28m, even i apply 100m.
    This is rediculars. Who decide FTTN is really idiot.

    Richard Williams

    We live in Lexton VIC. NBN can only offer us satellite services which are both cost prohibitive and extremely limited plans wise. We are currently on adsl as that’s the only option Available for us. The speed is atrocious and reminds me of dial up. Currently about 1mbs and laggy as hell. The other option is wireless broadband but at about 2.5klm front the network tower, our 1 bar signal strength is just as woeful. I am waiting for Elon Musk to save us by the end of next year if we are lucky. The government and NBN should have… Read more »


    I can’t get 25Mbps, my max line speed is 16, multiple drop outs every day and it’s still close to impossible to get NBN to do anything to fix it. Quoted $25k to upgrade to FTTP. I’m against privatisation, but if the government can’t be budged on that we must get every premises on a sub-par connection on FTTP before then, as I don’t see companies reaching into their wallet to upgrade connections for those of us left behind on FTTN


    I went from 4mb on ADSL to 50mb on FTTN for $10 a month less. Very very rarely I see it drop below 40, hovers around 48-53 most days. NBN has been a blessing for me.

    Richard S

    Interesting there is no reference to NBN satellite service which still has massive download restrictions, even with Covid relief and speeds are NEVER (its not technically possible) at 25 MBPS. So how many in the 2% are in that boat, or are they just forgotten?


    I Live in a capital city and can only get 40mb/s
    I have friends down the road in new suburbs that can get gigabit speeds and I am stuck on FTTN that up until very recently only got under 25mb/s. Its disgraceful and they should definitely not be privatised (EVER), before everyone at least can get gigabit speeds.

    Dave M

    I can’t get 25Mbps. The best it pulls is about 9 or 10, on a plan that should give me up to 50 I think it is…
    I’m not even far from the city, just rubbish copper lines.

    Morgan Hodgkinson

    Not all area can get NBN yet don’t live there but an example

    Sujay Vilash

    Privatisation of NBNCo is inevitable. However, they should be forced to migrate all FTTN connections to FTTP before privatisation. My reasoning is simple. Whoever buys NBNCo will not invest money into the migration of FTTN to FTTP. Telstra have proven that over previous technologies. As for me personally, I would be happy to take up a faster plan at additional monthly plan cost on a 5yr contract if NBNCo will just move me from FTTN to FTTP. Currently, my FTTN NBN can only manage a maximum speed of 52Mbps. Fortunately my suburb was one of the lucky ones to be… Read more »


    “Chances are they’ll run the fibre down every street in the footprint, so you’ll probably be OK.”

    So naive.