Retailers told to speed test for NBN fibre to the node

Retailers told to speed test for NBN fibre to the node

Summary: It will be up to retailers to ensure they aren't misleading customers on FttN speeds, with NBN Co planning to offer retailers speed testing tools for premises connected via fibre to the node.

TOPICS: NBN, Australia

In a bid to prevent retail service providers advertising download speeds on fibre to the node connections on the National Broadband Network that cannot achieve those speeds, NBN Co will offer speed testing tools to retailers.

Under the multi-technology mix model of the NBN under the Coalition government fibre to the node will likely form a major part of the network.

As NBN Co works to negotiate access to the copper lines owned by Telstra, the company has been scoping out with the retail service providers on potential product options on both FttN and hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC).

In an early discussion paper to the company's product development forum, NBN Co flagged that it would retain the fibre to the premises speed tiers — 12Mbps/1Mbps, 25Mbps/5Mbps, 50Mbps/20Mbps, and 100Mbps/40Mbps — on fibre to the node, but indicated that the latter two tiers would be advertised as offering speeds "up to" the speeds represented, with fibre to the node often unable to offer the top tier speeds on VDSL over the copper lines.

This resulted in the ACCC admitting in June that such representations could be construed as misleading to consumers.

"At its face, that would be misleading," ACCC chair Rod Sims said at the time.

NBN Co CEO Bill Morrow said in July that NBN Co was working to clarify how to best advertise the top two products, and in answer to a question on notice from former Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, the ACCC said NBN Co would offer speed testing tools to retailers.

"The ACCC understands that NBN Co is developing a service to allow RSPs to estimate the available data rate of FttN to particular premises at the time of qualifying a service," the ACCC said.

The commission said that even with fibre to the premises, retailers cannot often be certain of the speeds delivered by NBN Co at all times to individual premises, with NBN Co's speeds defined as "best efforts", with network contention being an issue from time to time.

It was up to the retailers to ensure they would not mislead customers on advertising broadband speeds.

"It is the responsibility of retail service providers to ensure that advertised data transfer rates are not misleading or deceptive. In an FttN environment, the ACCC would expect that RSPs use any network testing service from NBN Co and consult the relevant service standards to understand the capability of any FttN access product NBN Co supplies."

The ACCC has previously released information papers of speed plans for ADSL, HFC and FttP, but the commission said that it had no intention to release a similar paper for FttN because the ACCC's approach to broadband speed advertising remains the same across all technologies.

ZDNet revealed last week that NBN Co has now approached retailers on its planned products for the HFC networks, with the view to keep the existing speed tiers, and install nodes on the networks to reduce contention.

Topics: NBN, Australia


Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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  • Speed reporting

    TrueNet is keen to test the performance of some NBN connections to enable ISP comparisons. Measurement ensured that performance quality has risen in New Zealand, it can also work in Australia.

    We place a simple bridged router between your LAN & connection to test every hour using data quantities under the volunteers own management. We have many and growing numbers of Australian ADSL and Cable connections, we need Fibre volunteers to complete the picture.

    Drop in to to find out more
  • UPTO Means anything!

    UPTO isn't a speed, a car can do UPTO 110klms on the M4 but it doesn't mean that it is going at any particular speed at any time. ISP's have always misled about speeds.
    MY ADSL connection is UPTO 24Mbps but it varies between zip and 10.5Mbps, most of the time it sits somewhere between 8.5-10.5Mbps, when it's raining heavily it's zip.
    Kevin Cobley
  • Why is testing necessary?

    Malcolm Turnbull said before the election that they would test every line to make sure it was upto scratch.
  • Speed tiers on FTTN isn't the same as congestion on FTTP

    Congestion on FTTP is only a temporary situation, the customer at some point will be able to achieve the speed they paid for.

    However if a customer purchases a particular speed FTTN service and they find that their line isn't capable of that speed, there are no circumstances under which they can experience the speed that they've paid for.

    If I can't drive my car at 60KM/h due to congestion, once that clears I will be able to drive it at 60KM/h. However if I buy a bottle of milk 2L written on the label, but it's sold in a bottle only capable of storing 1L, there's no way I can get 2L of milk out of that bottle.

    Why did I use two completely different analogies? Because they're two different things that shouldn't be compared. The first thing is a fact of life and not a big deal; the second thing is clearly a rip-off.
    • A better analogy

      Actually here's a better analogy.

      Let's look at a highway where the speed limit is 100km/h. Any car on the highway can travel "up to" 100km/h.

      A modern car and a vintage car will both travel at 40km/h on the highway if it is congested.

      But if the highway is clear, the modern car will easily travel at 100km/h while the vintage car struggles to reach 60km/h. Oh but it can go "up to" 100k/h because that's the speed limit.

      In 5 years time when there is increased need to get traffic around more quickly, the highway is upgraded and given a 120km/h speed limit. The modern car can meet this demand with ease because it was built with that possibility in mind. But the vintage car will still putter along at 60km/h.

      Yes - new technologies are emerging that will give that vintage car a new lease on life. It gets a new engine! Depending on the aerodynamics and current wind speed - it might actually reach 100km/h! But this isn't guaranteed. Oh and it won't be able to handle the new 120km/h speed limit once it's introduced. We'll spend a lot on upgrading the vintage car but eventually we'll need to buy the modern car, which will be more expensive by then.

      This is what we've got. FTTP is a modern car. It's based on up-to-date and forward-thinking technology that will last now and well into the future. FTTN is a vintage car that we're trying to push beyond its limits. We're pouring money into something that will eventually need to be replaced anyway!
      • except

        If the road condition is so poor that even in the modern car it's still not possible to do the 120km/h, and instead your still stuck doing 60 because of congestion caused not by traffic volume but by the poor road surface.

        Was trying to put the fact that without bigger backbones - all those fttp links will just be more expensive 'up to' speed links that never reach it.
    • Milk

      I think you'll find if you check the milk bottle it said "up to 2L".
  • Pretty much the way they do it overseas ...

    Verifying the speed before offering it is pretty much the way the VDSL based Telco's do it overseas - although it does not mean the line stays at that speed and that is the problem with copper based networks. Aren't we gonna have fun and games as our scum sucking ISP's now start gaming it. Far better from a consistency perspective to go FttH, just design it competitively.

    The bigger question - do we actually have a definition as to what speed may be advertised as ? Peak at x speed for greater than 40% of the day, above 80% of speed for 90
    % of the day etc.
    • Especially for HFC

      Contention on HFC is crippling. There's simply no point testing a line for peak available speed if that is unsustainable due to massive contention. Unless contention is addressed comprehensively NBN Co is merely paying lip service to addressing the issue of available performance.
      • Wait and see

        It'll be a "wait and see" situation with HFC contention, Morrow has already said they'll look at adding more nodes if it is an issue.
  • Canberra

    If only ISP's charged based on what the speed test said was the maximum achievable. I wouldn't be paying so much for my shitty ADSL connection :-) It does have merit particularly if we go down the FTTN path. If they want a user pays system, then people on FTTN with slower connections shouldn't be paying for "upto" speeds.
    Justin Watson
  • Speed to the node

    Josh I could care less about speed to the node. I only care about what I get in my home office and what I have to pay for it. At present Telstra is just hopelessly slow in regional areas like mine unless I could get fibre all the way into my house.
    • Could you now?

      You could care less? So you care a lot about the speed to the node? Or only a bit? I'm confused - how much do you care? However much it is, you're saying it's possible for you to care less than you do now, right? But, um, excuse my ignorance, but how is your ability to care less than you do now (not having defined how much that is) in any way relevant or useful as a metric?

      I hope you've realised by now that your statement 'I could care less' makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. What you meant was 'I couldn't care less' which demonstrates that your level of care for that particular scenario is so small, so insignificant, that it isn't actually possible for you to care any less - essentially you're saying 'I don't care about...' - that is the statement you're making, just in a slightly different way (it has more emphasis).

      Mangling common phrases so badly they fail to make any sense just makes you look like an idiot.
    • speed

      I live in a regional VIC town and I am currently getting 16 / 1 megabits from big T via a reseller. Very happy with that. However, next month I will be getting NBN FTTP at 25 / 5 and even happier except that it will be more expensive than adsl2+ and much less included data allowance.
      • Really??

        Care to link to the plan you're on now vs what you're going to? Extensive analysis has shown that moving to NBN fibre plans usually saves people money over their DSL equivalents, so your comment is rather surprising.
  • Re; speed

    "more expensive than adsl2+ and much less included data allowance."

    It's the usual story with 'big T'
    Big T wants $100 for just 100GB

    By shopping around for the best package for my needs I get 200GB @ 25/5 for $65. That's $5 less than my present 100GB ADSL1+Line Rental.
    • For now

      That might be the case for now. NBNCo deliberately priced the wholesale price so that it is similar to ADSL2+ port prices. This was probably under the direction of the labor governemnt to make the move from copper to fibre as smooth as possible with little to no different in pricing of plans. However, if you look at NBNCo's projected ARPU (FTTP model) it begins to increase substantially (as opposed to dropping or stagnating as is the case for current ADSL). Have a look at Interesting to say the least