An extensive survey of broadband users by online forum Whirlpool has found that most people support the so-called "opt-out" approach to rolling out the National Broadband Network (NBN), and that overall sentiment towards the NBN policy as a whole has rapidly improved over the past several years.
Under the "opt-out" policy, residents will have fibre or wireless infrastructure installed to their home unless they say they don't want it — although they aren't forced to actually pay for broadband services from an internet service provider (ISP). The policy has been adopted by Tasmania, but Victoria has rejected it and will force residents to actively signal their consent for the network to be physically connected to their premises.
Whirlpool's survey was taken by some 23,513 individuals, most of whom rated themselves as either a guru, power user or at least "confident" when it came to technology. Many of them worked in the technology sector, either as an IT manager, admin, developer or support agent.
"These results largely represent the views of informed opinion leaders, and informed consumers. We have not attempted to normalise the results to represent the broader marketplace, as we believe the information to be more valuable with this bias intact," stated Whirlpool.
According to the survey results published online today, 45 per cent of the respondents noted that they support the opt-out policy, with 20.1 per cent against and the rest either undecided (17.7 per cent) or not knowing what the policy was (17.2 per cent). In addition, just 3.5 per cent of respondents said they would ensure their house was opted out of the NBN when it was rolled out to their area.
In general, 42.8 per cent of respondents indicated that they would rate the government's handling of the NBN policy so far as either excellent or acceptable — a number up from 15.1 per cent two years ago. Almost 50 (49.9) per cent of respondents rated the government's handling of the NBN policy as either poor or abysmal, with the rest not being sure.
Current NBN sentiment was rated by 58.7 per cent as being either positive or very positive, with a significant number being neutral — 19.3 per cent — and 19.8 per cent being negative.
One interesting item from the results was that, despite the NBN fibre's vastly improved technical capabilities over Telstra's current copper network (speed, latency and reliability), only 56.9 per cent of respondents said that they would switch their ISP to the NBN immediately — with 43.1 per cent stating that they wouldn't.
"Everyone switching to the NBN on day one isn't a fait accompli," Whirlpool said in its analysis of the survey results. "Further analysis on this topic isn't available, but many factors could play into this. Many won't be able to switch due to existing contracts or ISP limitations, and others may wait and see how the initial service pans out, or what deals are on offer."
The survey also covered a number of other areas — such as what devices users employ and what they think of the quality of their ISPs. One of Australia's largest ISPs — TPG — performed particularly badly in the survey, with 30.9 per cent of its customers rating the company's customer service as "awful" and 20.7 per cent being "outraged" with the reliability of their internet connection. Telstra also received below average results in the customer service category.