Dropouts, slow speeds and poor value has more than a third of NBN customers wanting to turn back time. Picture: Thinkstock
Dropouts, slow speeds and poor value has more than a third of NBN customers wanting to turn back time. Picture: Thinkstock

NBN so bad, users want old internet back

AT LEAST seven Telstra router boxes, countless buck-passing phone calls (sometimes from the landline if it's actually working), hundreds of reboots and dropouts and several technician inspections later, Melbourne home internet user Peter Hall has just one wish.

He's tired of the blame game, the promises and the handballing.

He's done with the National Broadband Network (NBN). He just wants his internet to work. Or his old cable connection back.

"It's a disgrace," says the Melbourne mature-age student.

"NBN stands for Nothing But a Nuisance. I don't care whose fault it is. I just want it to work, or my old internet service back."
He's not alone.

Australians have long known the NBN, heralded as the technology that would finally give us world-standard internet, isn't all that.

But despite its irreversible march across Australia, a recent survey has revealed more than one third of NBN users wish they could ditch the network altogether.

A survey of 958 NBN users by comparison website finder.com.au revealed more than one-third (34 per cent) would switch back to their pre-NBN service in a flash - no doubt faster than the internet speeds they are now getting - if they had the option.

Of those, 22 per cent said their old connection was faster, more reliable and dropped out less.

Another 11 per cent said their old service was cheaper, or better value overall.

Victorians like Peter were most likely to want out, with 40 per cent wishing they could turn back time. This was followed by NSW at 38 per cent and Queensland residents at 30 per cent.

Turning back time isn't possible. And even for those lucky enough to have not signed up yet, the reality is that it's not a matter of if, but when.

"Everyone will need to migrate to the NBN in the next few years - by 2022, all the existing copper and cable networks will be switched off," finder.com.au tech expert Angus Kidman said.

That's exactly what happened in the Melbourne suburb of Noble Park last year, when Pete made the switch, because it was NBN or nothing.

It's been a nightmare of poor, slow connections, dropouts, buck-passing and complaints to Telstra and NBN Co ever since.

Pete has had to resort to using his mobile phone hotspot to complete his work when the NBN service is down.

He's also experienced home phone dropouts due to his NBN connection - which proved a concerning hazard for the chronic asthmatic.

On the rare occasions the $90-a-month service works as it should, he says, "it's great".

Until the next round of dropouts - which average about twice a week - and slowdowns begin.

"At first, I called Telstra, and they'd tell me to reboot it (the router), put a pin in it … they were treating me like a technician and I didn't have a clue what I was doing," he said.

"Instead of sending someone to fix it they just kept sending new router boxes."

Telstra then told him the problem was the NBN - not their responsibility.

"So NBN did a check, and said it was Telstra's problem," he says.

"Telstra checked again. Nope - definitely the NBN."

The next NBN technician came to his street, he says, but not his house. But also assured him the problem was "definitely Telstra".

A couple more router boxes arrived.

Pete added the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO), alongside Telstra and NBN Co, to his regular internet complaint calling and emailing list.

The back-and-forth continues, monitored by the TIO.

"Until I decide to ditch the service altogether, I'm still being handballed between NBN Co and Telstra," he says.

His mobile phone service (and the internet service that comes with it) works perfectly. Because it is bundled with his other Telstra bills, he's reluctant to pull the plug on the NBN contract with the telecommunications company.

"And if I do, whoever I go with, I'm still stuck with the NBN," he said.

Mr Kidman offered a few tips on how to make the best of the faulty NBN.

"To improve your connection, unless you rarely use the internet, you should be on the NBN 50 speed tier. Don't settle for one of the slower options," he said.

"If you're not receiving the speed you were promised, call your service provider and report the issue, with the times, dates and speeds you experienced."

And keep on their back until they do something about it.

Or look at switching providers. While you'll still be saddled with your NBN connection, some "providers are stingier with capacity than others, and so may experience bigger congestion problems".

"They need to quote a typical evening peak speed, so make sure you check that detail," Pete said.

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