NBN Co is racing to finish its network rollout before the June deadline and it’s resorted to buying a monstrous amount of old school copper to do it.
Approximately 49,620 kilometres of it was purchased as of March 3 to help with finishing off the rollout, The New Daily has revealed. For reference, Australia’s mainland coastline measures in at 35,821 kilometres so it’s a lot of bloody copper wire.
It’s estimated to have exceeded half a billion dollars, according to previous Senate estimate figures, but that’s hardly the problem with the reveal.
The real issue is the fact that copper is considered an antiquated technology for a network aspiring to achieve fast speeds. NBN Co defended its choice to The New Daily, stating it was mostly used to bridge the gap between premises.
“The vast majority of copper we purchase today is for use in our FTTC network,” an NBN Co spokesperson said to The New Daily.
“FTTC brings fibre a lot closer to homes and businesses to enable very high-speed broadband, but it sometimes requires additional copper for the premises in this footprint.”
It comes just days after it announced the new Home Superfast and Home Ultrafast bundles, which come with theoretical speeds of 250/25 and 1000/50. Most Australians, however, just won’t be able to access those speeds unless they have access to Fibre or HFC connections. As it stands, the vast majority of us do not. NBN Co admitted that low percentage meant only 32 per cent could sign up to the 250/25 plans while just 18 per cent would be able to access the 1000/50 option.
Australia has been slipping in global internet speeds for years but the NBN was touted as a way for the country to literally get up to speed. That was now a decade ago and once the network is finally finished later this year, we’ll still be years behind the rest of the world.
While Australia ranks in the top 10 countries for mobile internet speed in the Oookla Speedtest Global Index, it’s fallen to 64th place in broadband speeds with an average download speed of 41.99Mbps. It sits well behind countries such as Qatar, Andorra and Thailand who all experiences average download speeds of more than 100Mbps.
To add insult to injury, some Australians will need to pay more for NBN services from 2021 after legislation passed giving regional, rural and remote Australians the right to internet. In order to pay for the completion of the network in those areas, however, NBN Co will bundle an extra charge on existing services for those living in metropolitan areas. It’s expected to come into effect from January 1, 2021.
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