After hearing about other people’s NBN stories for years, we’ve finally been connected ourselves to the NBN – and it was an interesting experience all round.
We’ve been successfully connected and I have to say, I’m very pleased with the result so far.
At our place in the south east Sydney, our NBN service is delivered with Fibre to the Curb which means there is fibre running up and down my street and it is brought in to my home via the copper line from the pit outside my house.
I discovered the NBN was available when I received a phone call from Aussie Broadband after registering interest on their site a year earlier.
They called me and I told them straight up that after being an Optus broadband customer for more than 20 years I thought it was appropriate to give Optus the first chance to provide me with my NBN service.
My next call was to Optus who started the signup process and the transition from my current service to the NBN.
At the outset I knew I was always going to choose the fastest plan – 100Mbps down and 40Mbps up – which is what Optus calls Speed Pack 4.
I was told to expect a call within 24 hours to work out the time when the NBN would be able to come out to my home and link my service.
Turns out, the Optus staffer was supposed to tell me I would receive a call within five days. The call came after four days and I learned the NBN would be at my house in a week and half on December 13.
My appointment was between 8AM and midday and there had to be someone over 18 at home.
That was no problem, I had cleared my calendar and was looking forward to finally connecting.
On the day, an NBN technician named Steve arrived and asked me if there was a Telstra cable coming into the house.
At first, I was confused, and thought he meant a Telstra internet cable. When I said there wasn’t he told me he couldn’t do the job.
But by cable, he meant telephone cable and a short walk around to the side of my home confirmed, in fact, that I did still have my Telstra phone line coming in off the street.
This is how Fibre to the Curb is connected to your home – via the existing copper phone line.
Steve then went into the house and found the closest phone point to that external Telstra line-in which was in the very front corner of my home which happened to be my home theatre.
But I explained I wanted the modem located in my office which is one room further back in the house.
Steve went into the office and checked the phone line and told me it wouldn’t be able to work in this room because the cable wasn’t linking back to the Telstra box on the side of my house.
Instead the phone cable was running up to the Optus box on the side of the house which in turn fed into the HFC cable running along the telegraph pole outside my home.
I’ve had this cable connection for more than 15 years and because I included telephone services, Optus have to shift my phone cable up to their box to connect to the HFC.
Fast forward to December 13, 2018 and this turned out to be the issue would prevent me from completing the connection today.
I called up a tech contact of mine from Optus and he and NBN technician Steve were included in my conversation so he could explain what needed to be done.
For me to connect the modem in my office it would require the telephone line being brought back down from the Optus box back down to the Telstra box closer to the ground.
Steve from the NBN said he was unable to do this as he was only obliged to link the service to the first available point in the home.
He said I would have to take this up with Optus to complete the connection.
My reasoning was that Optus moved my phone line 15 years ago to upsell me phone services, then by me staying loyal to Optus for the NBN that they would move the line back again.
Trying to explain this to the Optus tech support team, who are located offshore, I found really difficult.
And to add insult to injury, my cable service which was still running in the background had suffered an outage.
So the Optus tech support team were trying to focus on fixing my cable service (I later found out there was an outage in my area) rather than expediting my NBN connection.
They even offered to send out a technician for my cable service to check it out but I said I would prefer if they send the techie to connect my NBN.
After a few more phone calls, Optus said they would send someone out to reconnect the phone line back to the Telstra box.
I was disappointed Optus didn’t anticipate that this would be an issue. After all, they were the ones who moved my phone line all those years ago.
They knew I was migrating to a Fibre to the Curb service and would require that phone line to be in the right place.
My other disappointment was realising the gap between where the NBN’s responsibilities end and where Optus customer service begins.
It was the NBN technician that came to my place to activate the service but in my case I needed a little extra work which the NBN were not prepared to provide.
Optus, through sheer goodwill, sent out a technician but I understand that they were not obligated to do that and I would have had to pay for an electrician to do the work.
It’s hard to say if I had chosen another ISP instead of Optus if they would have gone that extra mile to fix this issue.
Forget me being Stephen Fenech, Tech Guide editor – I thought the fact that being a loyal Optus customer for more than 20 years would have been enough to get Optus to my place to fix my problem.
The very next day, the Optus technician turned up and 40 minutes later the line was reconnected.
I plugged in the FTTC Network Connection Device to my phone line and all the blue lights were on which meant I had a connection.
From here I connected the supplied Optus modem (it was their entry-level modem router and not the superior 802.11AC modem that comes if you bundle in Fetch TV) and I was up and running.
I excitedly jumped on my iMac and ran a speed test and was only getting 45Mbps down and 18Mbps up.
I sent a screenshot to my Optus contact and said it was not as fast as I expected.
Minutes later, an Optus customer service agent was calling me.
I explained the situation and they checked my account which said that I registered for Speed Pack 3 – 50Mbps down and 20Mbps.
My shoulders slumped with disappointment as I explained I that I distinctly remembered ordering Speed Pack 4.
They said they would have to contact the NBN and their IT team to upgrade my plan and get me that faster speed.
And 24 hours later that’s exactly what happened. I received another call from Optus support and they instructed me to run another speed test and the needle pushed around to 96Mbps down and 38Mbps up – which is close the promised 100/40 plan which is usually referred by the typical evening speed of about 80Mbps.
But since I’ve had the connection, the speeds have been in the low to mid 90s even in that busy period between 7pm and 11pm.
With my old Optus cable connection, I was already getting speeds in the 90s.
But for me one of the biggest improvements will be those upload speeds which will not only enable me to upload podcasts and video files faster than ever before, but it will also provide faster access to things like my Ring doorbell and other security cameras which rely on a decent upload speed for me to view them quickly through an app when I’m not home.
That was a massive improvement, and rather than waiting a minute to see who is at my front door with my Ring doorbell, I was able to connect in seconds.
Well that’s my story. I’m finally on the NBN and the service is great with speeds that I was expecting.
So far, so good.