The NBN Weighed and Measured:
A Project in Review

The NBN is the largest infrastructure project in Australia's history, and will have a huge effect on the lives of every Australia. But what has actually been delivered? and how does the project hold up on the international stage?


What Is the NBN?

The NBN stands for the National Broadband Network, an infrastructure Scheme that promised to deliver high speed internet to homes and businesses across Australia.

The Project was initially planned and commenced by the Labour government and constructed by NBN Co. However, the project has seen setbacks due to parliamentary disputes, changing governments and policies. This has led to technologies changing in the middle of development switching from a fibre to the premises (fftp) based system to a fibre to the node (fttn) system that may not achieve the same speeds as the initial project. The projects budget inflating yearly and a constantly changing completion date, has lead critics to wonder if the project has become a messy bloated money sink.


Does The NBN
Effect Me?

If you are Australian, and you're using the internet now, then yes! Australia relies on having a fast and reliable internet for a number of reasons. As our jobs and personal lives become more and more entwined with online services, It effects your ability to use cloud computing services, stream high quality video from services such as Youtube or Netflix, play video games, or video chat. All these things are affected by the speed of the internet service you are using.

The Promises and The Reality

The Labour Party, the Liberal Party and NBN Co. have all made a lot of promises for the construction and delivery of the NBN but how much of that have has actually been delivered? Click on the infographic below to see the differences in what was promised in the 2012 NBN Strategic Review and what the current state of the project is.





Servicable Brownfields by 2016
3862000
Estimated Project Completion Date
2021
Sattelite Premises Activated
145000
Premises with Access to 100 Mb/s Internet by 2019
91%
Total Project Budget
$29.5 Billion
Achivable Transfer Speed
100 Mb/s Download

40Mb/s Upload

Brownfields










Brownfields refer to all premises that NBN Co. has deemed eligible for the complete, high-speed internet connection. By 2016 they were supposed to be 3,862,000 premises connected to the internet, but according to NBN CO's own weekly progress report, they have missed the mark by 32.36%, only having connected 2,612,348 by the end of 2016.

Completion Date










The Entirety of the Project was to be completed by June 2021, with every eligible house, business and building in Australia having access to high speed fibre networks. However, this date has been pushed back to 2024, a whole 3 years past the expected date. This leaves a huge rift between those who have access to a faster internet service, and those who don't, and puts people and businesses without NBN connection at a huge disadvantage. Also, with many areas not even scheduled for development yet, 2024 may just be another date that comes and goes without progress being made.

Satellite Premises










Satellite Premises refer to rural properties that can only receive internet via satellite or other wireless communication services. The NBN is Connecting these premises to a much higher speed that what was previously available. In this case the NBN is actually well beyond schedule, activating 51.05% more properties than their initial estimate of 145,000. Supplying reliable internet to a classically underserved section of the population, and increasing the liveability of rural Australia.

Budget










When the Liberal Party first took control of the Project, future Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull declared that the budget for the NBN project would max out at $29.5 Billion. However that budget has since exploded, right now sitting at an estimated $57 Billion. All coming from the tax payers.

The Full Package










By 2019 91% of properties eligible for the highest level data packages are supposed to be connected. However, according to NBN Co's 2016 Corporate plan, only 57% of the properties will be able to access the full speeds by this date. Leaving the remainder to wait even longer, or may not get it at all.

Speeds










Since the beginning of the project it was always promised that Australia would receive Internet speeds of up to 100 megabits per second download speeds and 60 megabits per second upload, and as of now they are advertising these speeds to consumers. But is the speed you can expect when using the NBN? The reality is that no one knows as NBN Co refuses the release the numbers on what speeds users are getting or can be expected. However, with a great deal of NBN customers claiming not to be getting the high speeds that they are paying for, and Telstra offering refunds to many users for slow internet connections it can be believed that the promise of 100mb/s internet may just be a dream for most Australian's in the near future.

Australia On the
International Stage

So how does Australia fair when comparing it's Internet Speeds to the rest of the world? What do the years ahead hold for Australia to compete with other nations? Can we compete or will we languish as others' internet speeds reach gigabit connections?




International Average Download Speeds Past, Present and Future

Australia has, for a long time, trailed behind it's contemporaries when it comes to internet speeds. Even being overtaken by New Zealand in 2015, according to Akamai in the "State of the Internet" report. With the NBN it was hoped that Australia would finally be able to compete on the world stage. Unfortunately, due to the development setbacks, the constant switching between technologies used, and the increasing speeds of other countries, Australia will find itself falling even further behind, even with major speed increases due to the NBN. According to Cisco Systems in 2020, Australia, with an average download speed of 44.3 mb/s, will fall short of the world average (47.7mb/s) and comes in at less than half the speed of the world leaders Japan(96.8 mb/s) and South Korea (97 mb/s). However, These are just estimates and the reality in 2020 may reveal a different outcome.





So what now?








Australia has a long way to go if it wants to remain competitive on the international level if it wants to encourage jobs in technology and media industries. If Australia continues to lag in speeds, there may be a mass exodus of these industries going to other countries. To avoid this Australian politicians need to start looking toward the needs of the future rather than something that will not hold up on an international level.








Data Sources:
NBN Strategic Review 2013
NBN Corperate Plan 2012-2015
NBN Weekly Progress Report 4/5/2017
Akamai State of the Internet Report q4 2013
Akamai State of the Internet Report q4 2014
Akamai State of the Internet Report q4 2015
Akamai State of the Internet Report q4 2016
Cisco Virtual Network Index Forecast
Code Sources:
https://github.com/kottenator/jquery-circle-progress (circular progress bar)
http://bl.ocks.org/juan-cb/1afee8f2cae799e86707 (building animated Barchart)
NBN Weekly Progress Report 4/5/2017
https://codepen.io/anon/pen/LLWyWP (counting between numbers)