Town Wi-Fi is no NBN killer

Town Wi-Fi is no NBN killer

Summary: Whenever there's a new claim about something being an "NBN killer", there's always a reason to be cynical.


Whenever there's a new claim about something being an "NBN killer", there's always a reason to be cynical.

Be it Alan Jones' "lasers" or hypothetical überfast Wi-Fi, there's always some new technology that pundits are eager to claim dismisses the need for the National Broadband Network (NBN) entirely.

The Daily Telegraph proclaimed last month that a new Wi-Fi service in Gunnedah "walks like the NBN, talks like the NBN — but is about $40 billion cheaper".

Exciting stuff! What is this amazing piece of technology that will have Communications Minister Stephen Conroy crying into his Weet-Bix?

Instead of waiting years for fibre-optic cables to be laid out to their doorsteps while small surrounding communities were left unconnected, the council teamed up with a new company to deliver high-speed Wi-Fi internet to doctors, patients, school students and every business in town.

The main street boasts free Wi-Fi, as a new pilot scheme connects to the web using fibre-optic cables that were laid three decades ago.

Great! How much, and where can we sign up for this free Wi-Fi? The Telegraph wasn't forthcoming with such detail. Last week, however, the company behind the Wi-Fi, TUPS, published a detailed list for pricing, and that's where the "NBN killer" argument comes undone.

Leaving aside speeds, which I doubt will match the NBN, the prices are by far in excess of that we've seen retailers offer so far.

For a consumer, the most you can get in data per month is 20GB. Which will set you back $119. By comparison, for $80 with Optus, you can get 500GB of data per month.

If you want anywhere near that amount in Gunnedah with TUPS, you'll need a business account, where it'll set you back $548 per month for 200GB of data.

The "free" part of the Wi-Fi is 10MB free for visitors. Other than that, the Wi-Fi hotspots only provide access to websites hosted by TUPS.

In any case, TUPS never claimed the technology to be an NBN replacement, and has even expressed interest in becoming a retailer when NBN Co comes to town.

And when NBN Co does, given that there's already spare fibre in the ground, there's a good chance that NBN Co won't need to lay its own fibre over the top.

It's great to see companies step up to fill the gap while NBN Co is rolling out, but it's always handy to have the full facts at hand before claiming anything to be an "NBN killer".

Topics: NBN, Broadband, Networking, Wi-Fi


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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  • But... but... the Tele said it was cheaper! Are you trying to tell me the Tele doesn't always tell me the truth? NOOOooooo! Whatever you do, don't tell me there's no Santa Claus, because I don't think I could take another shock to my world view!
  • God, why are people so in love with WIFI? The minute people start using it en mass it gets congested and its pretty much useless. There will be no NBN killer, just a lot of Media types wanting to jump on the Hate-NBN bandwagon. I really hate all these WIFI/WIFIMax idiots, you know why? Ask them how it works, and they mutter something along the lines of "Its Wireless!". SIGH
  • Yeah. The problem with the Daily Terror is that it gets to shout whatever BS it likes and is never held to account as to the accuracy, especially by itself.
    And the BS is self promoting ignorance and indignation. Very sad. But it's the power of the mainstream media, (in particular the Murdoch Press) and needs to be counteracted where-ever and when-ever possible.
  • Phexe I have run and owned a Wireless ISP for coming on 10 years.

    Id be happy to answer any questions you may have, in as much detail as you want. See my recent posts on Whirlpool (in NBN wireless section) about how a Wireless network SHOULD be run. how it can be a substitute for parts of the NBN network, as long as you don't have greedy people behind the curtains.

    Unfortunately the Wi-Fi service in Gunnedah was built by some people who have too much money, wanted it to look and sound cool but in the end cant deliver a comparable service.

    We are in the business now of hooking up small towns, giving nearly every house that wants a service 12/1Mbit with ADSL comparable pricing, and we probably have the best reputation for an ISP in the country going on our Whirlpool thread.
  • Wouldn't it make more sense to use the fiber directly instead of going to the expense of adding a crappy wifi layer on top of it? So the town plans to wait 8 years until the NBN officially blesses the already laid cables for public use.
  • Piece of horse **** I wouldn't pay >$5 for 20GB. Talk about an absolute rort, anyone paying this company for these horse **** plans should be shot in the face.
  • Why would you? You can get Next G 15 GB a month for $79, which will give you better speeds, more coverage, the freedom to use it anywhere in the country, not just this 1 town, and you don't have to worry about their crazy local caching situation. This is pretty poorly implemented.
  • It is great that Gunnedah is offering 10Mb per day free to visitors, but that is hardly newsworthy. Newstead in country Victoria has been offering free WiFi to visitors and residents for over 2 years. Unlike Gunnedah, Network Newstead provides up to 100Mb per 30 minute session and users are free to access most websites and a lot other services. We block services such as bit torrent to preserve bandwidth and use OpenDNS to prevent easy access to material deemed to be inappropriate for viewing in public.

    This has all been possible due to some initial funding from Mount Alexander Shire council and Internode providing free backhaul over ADSL. I donated my time to set the thing up and it is now zero maintenance.

    You can learn more about Network Newstead at