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I have been asked many times how the NBN is being received here, any recommendations etc so here’s a few thoughts to pass on. If you need more individual help with deciding on a plan that suits your needs exactly, just give me a call (my number is on the right of every page). I have worked in the telecoms field for over 25 years and have nearly 20 years experience in computers and the internet.

With the arrival (finally) of the NBN at Shoalhaven Heads for most residents – streets closer to the National Park and some residents of the caravan parks are still waiting at the time of writing this – the ‘early adopters’ seem in the main to be happily pleased … so far!

Those of us who like to ‘stream’ video content like the ABC iView, Netflix etc have had a few years of terrible ADSL service, especially during the evening period. This applied to all ISPs, including Telstra, TPG, iiNet and was all due to one reason – Telstra. They owned the links to provide broadband services here and other companies had no choice but to use whatever speed was available to them.

The situation has now changed. Telstra is now just another RSP (all NBN providers are now called Regional Service Providers). They don’t own the infrastructure anymore and are simply contractors to NBN Co to maintain and repair the copper cabling that is still used to deliver the ‘last few hundred metres’ of broadband service from the NBN Co maintained ‘nodes’. These are the green small fridge-sized boxes you will have seen on streets in the village.

Telstra, while still operating the telephone exchange network to connect our calls, no longer has the monopoly for providing fixed line phones. NBN Co and whichever RSP you choose now provide the services that you pay for, so there are some good deals to be had.

In saying that, if you have very modest needs and want to continue to use your home line (this is optional after going on the NBN), then Telstra’s ‘Home Internet Starter Bundle’ is actually fairly good value. At $59 per month for 25Gb data (on the slowest NBN speed of 12Mb/s) plus free phone calls from your home phone – including calls to mobiles – this may be fine for those who don’t use the internet that much or need to stream video. Good luck finding this one on the Telstra website though. I wouldn’t be surprised if the plan is actually a ‘special’ that disappears once Telstra has signed up as many customers as it can on the NBN. Search for ‘telstra home internet starter’ on Google to find the PDF of the plan info or ask for this plan if you call them to connect to the NBN. Of course you will have to sign up to a two year contract – more on that later.

EDIT: If you are one of the ‘lucky’ ones who received an unsolicited free modem plus phone and want to sign up for the $59 starter plan instead of what they are offering (usually the $99 plan) you may be asked to return the modem/phone first. I’d try the line ‘nope I’ll keep them if you want my business’ – might work.
Oh and also, this is important, get a name of who you are speaking to and get them to email you all the details of what you agreed to. Worth doing because many seniors I have spoken to here were promised a free in-home installation by a Telstra tech for all senior citizens on a pension by staff manning the Telstra ‘caravan’ that was camped out in the Bowlo carpark. I actually heard them promise this on one occasion. In reality, they got sent a modem in the mail with instructions – no visit just emailed a possible connection date, which often came and went but no connection… great service huh?

There are many other providers out there, some have been around for years while others are fairly new to the market. My best advise I can give you is to sign up with a provider who offers short or no term contracts – OR – if you want to stay with Telstra, ask for them to ‘migrate’ your existing contract rather than sign a 24 month one. This is what we have done, we pay the exactly same as our old ADSL plan and get the same free local calls for under $80 a month but haven’t signed a new contract. We get 1200Gb included too thanks to the free upgrade we received on many ADSL plans last year.

Why not sign a new contract? One simple reason – I don’t trust that Telstra will not do what it did on their ADSL network – ie: not provide enough evening speed and we end up with the familiar ‘evening slowdowns’ again. I hope I’m wrong but I want the option of moving to another provider that will buy enough bandwidth from NBN Co as many have stated (and are doing) when more customers go on the NBN.

One other thing to remember is this. In the past, if we had a problem with the phoneline or internet we would call our provider first and if we weren’t a Telstra customer there were 2 companies involved in fixing the fault. If we were with Telstra there was only the one company. Once we are on the NBN there are a minimum of two – NBN Co + Telstra (subcontractors) or three : your RSP + NBN Co + Telstra as subcontractor. Now, I may be paranoid but who do you think will get quicker / better service from Telstra, their own customers or customers of another RSPs? If you have a dodgy phone line as many of us do – we’re on first name basis with our lovely, hard working Telstra chap as he’s been to our place at least 7 times last year – then maybe stay with Telstra for now to save more grief.

This situation is only because we have fibre to the node and have to use the terrible copper network that Telstra has not maintained sufficiently and not what we should have got in the first place, fibre to the premises.

But of course the Libs and good old ‘Malcolm the Expert’ put paid to that didn’t they?

The Computer Guy at the ‘Heads
Note: These are my personal opinions but based on many years of working in a major telco. I know how they operate…

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