Blame backhaul, not NBN, for slow speeds

Blame backhaul, not NBN, for slow speeds

Summary: Tasmanian customers who have experienced lower than advertised download speeds on the National Broadband Network can blame their retail service provider (RSP) for not buying enough backhaul capacity, according to National Broadband Network Company CEO Mike Quigley.

TOPICS: NBN, Broadband

Tasmanian customers who have experienced lower than advertised download speeds on the National Broadband Network can blame their retail service provider (RSP) for not buying enough backhaul capacity, according to National Broadband Network Company CEO Mike Quigley.

Mike Quigley

Mike Quigley (Credit: Josh Taylor/ZDNet Australia)

In Senate Estimates last night, Liberal Senator Eric Abetz highlighted an article in the Hobart Mercury that quoted a Midway Point customer who was on a 100 megabits per second (Mbps) plan but could only receive around 10Mbps download speeds.

"Are those sorts of stories familiar to the NBN?" Abetz asked Quigley.

"The NBN goes from the premise to the point of interconnect. You then have the RSP [which] buys backhaul from wherever, they then connect to their point of presence. The result of the investigation by ourselves and the RSP indicated that the link was under-dimensioned," Quigley said.

"When the RSP increased the backhaul between the point of interconnect to their point of presence, the problem went away."

The article quoted by Abetz stated that the RSP was Internode, which was supplied backhaul by Aurora.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy noted that the problem with Internode had affected a number of residents and one school in Tasmania.

Quigley returned to the issue at the Communications Alliance Broadband and Beyond 2011 conference in Sydney today, stating that the roll-out in Tasmania had taught the company a number of lessons about ensuring that the services offered by the NBN were being enabled correctly by the retailers.

"We're learning the importance of backhaul, obviously, that retail service providers buy, and if they don't buy quite enough, the service isn't what they expect it to be," he said. "People think the NBN isn't performing as it should be but really it's the backhaul component that we have to go talk to the RSP about."

Quigley said that 90 per cent of the passive construction at the first roll-out sites had now been completed. Armidale would be the first mainland site to go live in April.

Topics: NBN, Broadband


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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  • A job for Graeme Samuel. False advertising of the worst kind... Advertise 100 Mbps but only receive around 10 Mbps.

    If Telstra tried this lark, he would be on top of them like a ton of bricks.
    Vasso Massonic
    • What a load of crap Vasso. Did you read the story at all? NBN Co provides the thick pipe that allows data to flow at the spec speeds but it's the RSP that determines how much data they send down i.e. whether it's full capacity of just a trickle.

      Don't blame the infrastructure provider, blame the service provider.

      (Btw I realise it's not entirely clear you *are* attacking NBN Co, I'm just assuming you are based on previous form. Apologies if I got it wrong and you're actually attacking internode.)
      • Really the government/NBN Co. should also be ensuring that the speeds are up to standard. It is a government project, and NBN Co. is a government owned corporation / infrastructure provider. I expect when it is advertised as 100Mbps that I get those speeds.

        I would be blaming both NBN and the RSP not a single one of them but I do believe the government should be making sure that consumers to receive the speeds promised to them!
        • lol really? Do you blame VicRoads (or whatever state you live in) when your bus is running late too?

          The mechanism for ensuring the RSP provides the service they've promised is competition at the retail level.
    • Graeme's golden rule for cherry picking, anything goes wrong blame Telstra. On that basis NBN cops the blame IMHO.
      Vasso Massonic
      • Dear oh dear... Vasso

        You personally derided Mr Samuel daily at NWAT for (supposedly) blaming Telstra and called him a wayward sheriff. You argued vehemently that Telstra were 100% in the right and Mr Samuel 100% wrong.. didn't you?

        So the above comment (typically) defies all rationality and logic and/or proves your absolute bias, if you now claim the NBN guilty but have historically always claimed precious Telstra [sic] innocent for (according to you) doing the exact same thing?

  • I am confused. If the NBN isnt providing whole connectivity, then what are we getting for 40 thousand million dollars?? If the RSP policies allow only for vastly lesser speeds than the NBN then how can the NBN claim they are providing 100mbs ? Que ?
    • Hey Skeptic,

      The NBN phyical infrastructure supports the 100mb.

      Also the the Backhaul physical infrastructure supports 100mb plus a lot more.

      the cost of NBN is going into the physical infrastructure.

      The Retailers work by reselling virtual wholesale portions of the infrastructure. (backhaul bandwidth)

      The retailer, in this case Internode, bought only 10mb backhaul bandwidth rather than buying 100mb backhaul bandwidth.

      Imagine Backhaul as an existing Highway where the physical structure of transport and road can move at say 300kms.

      Imagine the NBN built a transport and road to your front door from the Highway that suppoted 100kms.

      Now for the virtual example, think of goverment imposed speeding limits.

      Think of Internode (the retailer) playing goverment and limiting the Highway (backhaul) with a 10km speed limit, while your street is still at 100km.

      It comes down to costing.

      Internode was prepared for majority of people only signing for 10mb links and so only purchased 10mb backhaul hoping that they wouldnt have to get 100mb backhaul till theres enough people signed up for 100mb links to make that kind of backhaul viable and cost effective for the retailer.

      I hope this makes things clearer for you.

      Regards Phil
    • NBN is just last mile, which presents the problem as everyone has been saying that actually providing backhaul so people can download at those speeds is gonna be $$$
      • The beauty of this story is that it proves that the NBN is going to be great for competition, and great for customers. Remember that you sign up with a retail company, not with the NBN.

        In this case, Internode bought a whole lot more backhaul after the customer complained, and the problem went away immediately. If their provider had been, for instance, Dodo (just to choose a well-known provider at random), and it wasn't fixed, the customer could simply churn to someone who will deliver the advertised service.

        The provider can be big or small, and any provider can sell a service to any customer in Australia, without regard to their geographic location and the last-mile technology.

        All but 7% of customers can choose a speed of 12/1, 25/2, 50/20, 100/40 or 1000/400, or a voice-only service. The tiny remainder can only get 12/1, 12/2 or 12/4 Mbps, which is a whole lot better than dialup. In all cases, they can choose whichever provider suits them, and change any time.
        • Ultimately our retailers could end up being the likes of woolworths, coles etc following their entry into the mobile phone markets..
          • Yes, idf, except that none of them get bulk buying privieleges. Anyone can set up an ISP and resell a bandwidth and data package on the NBN. If you give good service for a reasonable price and your billing and own network don't let you down, you will prosper.

            Anyway, Woolworths Everyday Mobile did well for a while by selling Optus mobile minutes for 15 cents plus 15 cent flagfall. Now they are faced with Amaysim who are selling 15-cent minutes with no flagfall, and a 1GB data block for $10. A lot of light mobile users are now jumping ship for the better deal. Exactly the same will happen on the NBN. Great for competition, great for customers.
        • No this proves absolute bullcrap since there are no CVC or AVC prices for the Tasmanian trials

          Stop carping on, its starting to smell
          • Dear oh dear, change the tune... CVC/AVC, find a new FUD topic FFS...tiger!
          • @deteego, the Tasmanian pilot will end in a few months. Expect to see pricing the same as on the mainland. With Armidale and the other four first-release sites being lit up in April, you will only need to wait until mid-year to see how pricing is pitched in the new competitive environment. Retailers will be looking to cover the costs of their aggregate wholesale AVC and CVC charges, but there could be some interesting pricing models. Some high-end plans might even be sold below cost by some RSPs as a loss-leader to atract market share, with the far more numerous low-end plans effectively covering the shortfall by having an extra few cents' padding in the price.
          • Competition cannot drop prices so low that all players in the market will make a loss, and as stated in the business case of a basic 12/1 plan exclusive of GST costing aroung ~$55 when TPG offers unlimited at $60 inclusive of GST, you are talking absolute nonsense

            The AVC/CVC is screwing up the pricing models, not making it better. The current ULL/LSS is a flat fee, no CVC, no nothing. Just $6/17 dollars, and the ISP can do whatever they wan't with their connection. With the NBN, ISP's have to screw around with CVC.
          • That would be fine if TPG could offer their unlimited plan to ~93% of the population. Unfortunately many people do not have the luxury of being able to switch to another provider to take advantage of deals such as the one you've mentioned.
          • Exactly fingersl... I had the same debate with the same person a few days back.

            He feverishly googled and found this one plan (and it is a good plan... no doubt - his 24/7 googling paid off...LOL) but he was using it, cart blanche`to try to show the NBN expensive.

            So I immediately visted TPG (may be to even churn over to them).

            Thing is, although I live in one of the biggest cities (in the urban sprawl) in Aust, this plan is not available to me. So I'd guess if I can't get it, well 100's of 1000's or even millions, wouldn't be able to either! A vastly "inferior" plan is of course, available at the same price however...sigh!

            Also conveniently overlooked by our friend [sic] was the old "UP TO"...!

            So in essence, while the TPG plan is great. In reality the plan is just another slap in the face... because only a select few who are able to buy the plan can enjoy it and of those, only the ones who live within spitting distance (lol) of the exchange, can actually receive the full benefit of the UP TO speed maximum, anyway...!

            The closest NBN plan (which is $4 less) also used by him/outlined in the corp. plan, will as you say fingersl, in years to come be available to 93% of all Aussies, will also have speed certainty (pay for 20Mbps get 20. I currently get 6.7 on my 20 plan), but at this stage offers less downloads.

            The clincher of course, being availability.

            As it stands, he may as well google a blindingly quick plan from Korea or wherever, because that plan would be just as available to most Aussies as the TPG one he clings to!
      • This is the biggest issue - the costing. And real world costing can only truly be evaluated and refined once the majority of the network is in place. This would be the main reason the NBN isnt revealing any serious costing as yet.
  • LOL... right on cue...

    Hey mwil19... how about demonstrating your impartiality (LOL) and now having a go at your buddy (comment #1 too) for doing exactly as I said he primarily always does, turning every comment into an off-topic Telstra ad (to vainly try to help his punctured TLS portfolio).

    Well go on, call him a naughty name too...OMG!