Remember back 13 years ago to 2007: Girlfriend by Avril Lavigne was at the top of the charts, it was still legal to hug people, and we were going to have fibre internet going into 98% of Australian premises by 2016. It was a beautiful, simple time. Of course, the NBN didn’t quite work out that way. Now we have an expensive white elephant that’s supposedly finished, even though 100,000 places still don’t have access, and they’re having to go back and replace some of the now obsolete technologies with fibre.
This is where smaller providers like DGTek come in. DGTek has built its own fibre network in Melbourne and is rolling out the service from Moorabbin to the CBD. This is giving buildings like mine three options when it comes to internet:
- NBN which is up to 89/30 for $109 per month
- TPG fibre to the building which is 95/38 for $59.95 p/m
- DGTek fibre which ranges from $69 p/m for 150/150 to $250 p/m for 980/980 depending on which ISP you choose.
The process of getting DGTek into my building was fairly simple (aside from the lockdown-related complications): I saw we were near the existing network and contacted DGTek, which then worked things out with my building manager. The most complicated part of the process was convincing the building manager DGTek would be OK, after NBN installers added some pretty costly fire code violations to our MDF during the installation process.
The benefit of going with a smaller provider was that as soon as lockdown lifted and tradies were allowed back in, the company called me to arrange set up and came the next day, with the helpful installer connecting everything up inside and outside the apartment for free.
Of course, the whole point of the NBN was to do away with smaller companies like this. There would be one fibre network for everyone to have equal access to, no matter where they lived.
Because I live in the city, I would always have access to the latest technology, because running a fibre spine up my building gives access for around 400 apartments at very little cost.
Compare that to my dad’s small town which has roughly the same number of people living in it as my apartment complex, but spread out over an entire mountain and it just doesn’t make financial sense for a company to give those people equal access to speedy internet.
Unfortunately, that NBN dream never happened. Tony Abbott’s government gutted the original equitable NBN for a mess of different technologies, many of which are now obsolete and need upgrading, creating unequal access and headaches for all involved.
Equal access and equal cost would have meant our access charges paid for the whole network and kept everyone connected affordably. In a year when we are relying on the internet more than ever, and we’re recognising the benefits of not having everyone crammed together in small areas, the original NBN plan would have been vital. Alas, we are now all left to fend for ourselves.
After receiving a sizable investment from Treia Capital last year, DGTek now plans on taking the network national, while still focussing on densely populated areas. And, frankly, if you have this kind of service available to you, you should absolutely go for it.