Author Topic: Finally a viable alternative to Australia's National Broadband Network!  (Read 1973 times)

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Offline Halcyon

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For those who haven't been following, our National Broadband Network (NBN) sucks, big time. Especially for users who only have fibre to the node with crusty, old, corroded copper the rest of the way. For the most part it's slow, because the lines are incapable of providing decent sync speeds and in some areas it's unreliable with constant drop outs.

For 2 years I've fought with NBN Co. and told them they need to replace the copper line out in the street, but they simply refuse to acknowledge the problem.

However, last week, Telstra (Australia's largest telco) released an unlimited data plan on their LTE mobile network, with no traffic shaping for $199/month. That means with a Cat. 16 LTE modem, you'd be able to download at speeds of up to 1Gbps and upload at 150 Mbps. Unlimited data on mobile networks isn't anything new here, but all the other carriers restrict you to 1.5 Mbps down after you hit your data quota.

I am seriously tempted to abandon my fixed wire NBN service for this.
 

Offline Synthtech

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The Australian NBN is a disaster, its what you would expect to happen if you get a politician to design your network on a cocktail napkin. 5G will most likely kill it dead and then the recriminations and blame shifting will go into full throttle.
 

Offline EEVblog

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However, last week, Telstra (Australia's largest telco) released an unlimited data plan on their LTE mobile network, with no traffic shaping for $199/month. That means with a Cat. 16 LTE modem, you'd be able to download at speeds of up to 1Gbps and upload at 150 Mbps. Unlimited data on mobile networks isn't anything new here, but all the other carriers restrict you to 1.5 Mbps down after you hit your data quota.
I am seriously tempted to abandon my fixed wire NBN service for this.

Link?

I still think any wireless solution would suck for my needs (low latency real time audio/video connections).
I'd rather have a rock solid 40M/40M fibre NBN connection than a 1G/150M wireless connection that is at the mercy of atmospheric conditions.
Also, what's a Cat 16 LTE modem?
 

Offline Halcyon

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Link?

https://www.telstra.com.au/mobile-phones/plans-and-rates#gomobile

At this stage, the plan is only available with a new handset (you can't get it on a SIM-only plan). It just means you end up with a new phone if you decide to put the SIM card into another device (such as a modem/router).

Also, what's a Cat 16 LTE modem?

Not all 4G/LTE modems inside phones, routers, tablets etc... are created equal. Some are capable of higher download and upload bit rates than others, I'm not quite sure how it works, but I believe it's to do with the number of MIMO streams. Anyway, modems have a User Equipment Category number. There are some Category 16 phones and modems out there for example, the Samsung Galaxy S8 and the Netgear Nighthawk M1. The new Samsung Galaxy S9 is capable of even faster speeds over LTE (up to 1.2 Gbps).

Wikipedia has a list of devices which are Cat 6 and above.
« Last Edit: July 30, 2018, 01:44:21 am by Halcyon »
 

Offline tsman

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However, last week, Telstra (Australia's largest telco) released an unlimited data plan on their LTE mobile network, with no traffic shaping for $199/month.

Gizmodo talks about that plan here and they mention that it still comes under the fair usage restrictions Telstra have.

They also mention that Telstra forbids you from sharing data i.e. hotspot/tethering and it says only for a phone/tablet. They know what type of device you've got the SIM in from the IMEI prefix so putting it into a LTE modem/router will be visible on their end. Using it in a regular phone that is bridged to your network is detectable as well via deep packet inspection. You can partially get around the DPI by rewriting some of the packet headers such as TTL but you'd still have odd traffic coming out such as hitting update sites for PCs etc... A VPN would hide all of this but then you need to deal with a VPN.

No clue if Telstra do actually check any of this but it is all possible to do and some mobile carriers do check. One of the carriers here sent you moody text messages complaining about you tethering if you tried it on a SIM that didn't have the addon.

That means with a Cat. 16 LTE modem, you'd be able to download at speeds of up to 1Gbps and upload at 150 Mbps.
You also need to be in a Telstra 4GX area for that. Expect to get 5-300Mbps with a Cat 16 or 18 device.
 

Offline NiHaoMike

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You can partially get around the DPI by rewriting some of the packet headers such as TTL but you'd still have odd traffic coming out such as hitting update sites for PCs etc...
How would they tell the difference between a Windows tablet and a Windows desktop?
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Offline Brumby

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They also mention that Telstra forbids you from sharing data i.e. hotspot/tethering and it says only for a phone/tablet. They know what type of device you've got the SIM in from the IMEI prefix so putting it into a LTE modem/router will be visible on their end. Using it in a regular phone that is bridged to your network is detectable as well via deep packet inspection. You can partially get around the DPI by rewriting some of the packet headers such as TTL but you'd still have odd traffic coming out such as hitting update sites for PCs etc... A VPN would hide all of this but then you need to deal with a VPN.

No clue if Telstra do actually check any of this but it is all possible to do ...

When broadband first rolled out in Sydney, Telstra said the same thing about the fixed line connection - to one device only, thank you.  No networking.  Optus were more accommodating.  They didn't care - but they did say that if you had service problems, they wouldn't do anything past the first device.  If you had a router, switch or whatever, you had to make a direct connection to a computer.  I was happy with that, so my decision to go with Optus back then was pretty much made by Telstra.

Metered usage has been a thing in Australia for many years with fixed line services and it's only been in the last few years that we have enjoyed some affordable "unlimited" plans.  I can see this extending into mobile services and this Telstra offer is the first step down that path.  The issue I see is capacity.  Mobile services are going to need quite a bit more oomph to support this on a wide scale, so I am not going to be at all surprised if Telstra do actually monitor for signs of this service being used as a network gateway.

When Telstra finally "allowed" networking behind their fixed line services, They did it with a TV ad campaign showing several family members using the same service.  I laughed like a drain.  This came several years after I had taken up an Optus cable service and had been happily running my own network all that time.

Eventually, I believe that we may seem the same unlimited services - in both data and networking - on the mobile platform, but I'm not confident enough to offer a timetable.

I know I currently get around 30Mbps from the Optus cable (on a standard, unlimited service) and I can get 50-70 Mbps when I tether through my Galaxy S5 - but I'd eat up my monthly data allowance in very short order.
 

Offline tsman

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How would they tell the difference between a Windows tablet and a Windows desktop?
You can't easily AFAIK but I've not looked that closely at DPI fingerprinting technology recently. If the IMEI TAC is just for a general 3G/LTE modem like Sierra Wireless then they wouldn't know it was a Windows tablet. Whether that is allowed or not would depend on their T&Cs and how well you can convince them it is just a Windows tablet.

How much effort they're actually putting into stopping people doing this is another matter entirely. I'm just saying that it is possible to detect unless you put extra effort into hiding it. All of these plans are reliant on people not fully using it hence the FairPlay conditions even though they claim "unlimited".
 

Offline Halcyon

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Gizmodo talks about that plan here and they mention that it still comes under the fair usage restrictions Telstra have.

They also mention that Telstra forbids you from sharing data i.e. hotspot/tethering and it says only for a phone/tablet. They know what type of device you've got the SIM in from the IMEI prefix so putting it into a LTE modem/router will be visible on their end. Using it in a regular phone that is bridged to your network is detectable as well via deep packet inspection. You can partially get around the DPI by rewriting some of the packet headers such as TTL but you'd still have odd traffic coming out such as hitting update sites for PCs etc... A VPN would hide all of this but then you need to deal with a VPN.

No clue if Telstra do actually check any of this but it is all possible to do and some mobile carriers do check. One of the carriers here sent you moody text messages complaining about you tethering if you tried it on a SIM that didn't have the addon.

I doubt they would check or even care (unless you come under notice for abusing the service).

They are well aware (even expect) that people will be using their service in modems/routers or for data across their LANs. They know the NBN sucks and people are looking for an out. Their "FairPlay" policy stipulates:

Our FairPlay Policy is intended to ensure that our customers do not use our services or FairPlay offers in an excessive, unreasonable or fraudulent manner or in connection with equipment that has not been approved by us. Such usage may impact the reliable operation of our network and/or the quality or reliability of our services. Generally, legitimate use of our services for their intended retail purposes for which they are supplied to you will not breach our FairPlay Policy.

Determining what is considered "excessive" isn't specified and provided your CPE meets all the relevant standards, I don't see an issue. Their policy is pretty generic and fairly typical of other fair use policies most ISP's and carriers have.

I've used Telstra services before which stipulated that you can only use the SIMs in mobile handsets and nothing ever happened.

At the end of the day, if you're not abusing the "unlimited data", they will keep taking your money for as long as you want. A few hundred gigabytes per month is highly unlikely to be noticed. 10 TB and they might ask you to go easy. Remember the guy that downloaded almost 1TB on a single day when Telstra offered free data? He was rewarded by Telstra, rather than penalised.
 

Offline Brumby

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At the end of the day, if you're not abusing the "unlimited data", they will keep taking your money for as long as you want.

This is the likely scenario IMO also.  As long as you don't cause problems that will attract the attention of the network monitors, I would expect you will go pretty much unnoticed.

Unless, of course, you get some anal retentive that decides to go on a witch hunt for no good reason other than they can.
 

Offline tautech

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At the end of the day, if you're not abusing the "unlimited data", they will keep taking your money for as long as you want.

This is the likely scenario IMO also.  As long as you don't cause problems that will attract the attention of the network monitors, I would expect you will go pretty much unnoticed.

Unless, of course, you get some anal retentive that decides to go on a witch hunt for no good reason other than they can.
Yeah right f**k them !
So you might have by default a 100Gb/month plan and only on a ADSL1 connection.
How the fork would/could you possibly use all the data you're entitled to ?
If another plan was unlimited it's just that, unlimited !

Abuse an unlimited data package, yeah right. Providers have been abusing us all for years.....where's the refund for all the data you haven't used as a portion of your monthly package ? ?
Grizzle to the providers like Halycon has for the last few years, bugger that as I've been there and done that here in NZ.

If I want to supply a wireless connection to visitors, campers or any of my close family I do just that !
Once data's reached my network and I've paid for it, it's mine and I'll do what I like with it thank you very much !

A mate had an ADSL2+ connection that gave him 16 MB/s and he used his 100GB plan every month and when his download manager had enough on its plate the ISP SW wouldn't pick up on he'd hit the limit of his plan and IIRC the best he got was 140 GB for that month.  :-DD

Things are a changing here in a big way, there's quite a few little mum and dad ISP's providing services to small districts by way of 5GHz microwave LOS links. All they need to start is a high site and LOS to a fibre connection, some BW and 'off the shelf' HW. My tiny mesh 10" dish can give me 256 MB/s if I want it but no 30/10 MB unlimited was plenty for my needs.

We're all far to nice to these old school thieving ISP's and while they keep treating us like numbskulls there'll be little ISP's spring up and take the cream from under their noses.
I say good bloody job ! Bring it on !
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Offline TheSteve

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Unlimited LTE would be a blast here(Canada) but is virtually unheard of. How many areas do Telstra have the bandwidth deployed to support CAT16 speeds?
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Offline BradC

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However, last week, Telstra (Australia's largest telco) released an unlimited data plan on their LTE mobile network, with no traffic shaping for $199/month. That means with a Cat. 16 LTE modem, you'd be able to download at speeds of up to 1Gbps and upload at 150 Mbps. Unlimited data on mobile networks isn't anything new here, but all the other carriers restrict you to 1.5 Mbps down after you hit your data quota.

Unless they've suddenly come up with some magic where each device gets it's own dedicated link that'll be great until a few more people in your area have the same idea, then your bandwidth will go down the toilet.

I had a play with LTE around my area for a while, and just like the cheaper broadband providers with SFA backhaul, once the kids get home from school the speed/latency goes to hell in a handbasket.

Wireless is fab while nobody else is using it.
 

Offline tautech

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However, last week, Telstra (Australia's largest telco) released an unlimited data plan on their LTE mobile network, with no traffic shaping for $199/month. That means with a Cat. 16 LTE modem, you'd be able to download at speeds of up to 1Gbps and upload at 150 Mbps. Unlimited data on mobile networks isn't anything new here, but all the other carriers restrict you to 1.5 Mbps down after you hit your data quota.

Unless they've suddenly come up with some magic where each device gets it's own dedicated link that'll be great until a few more people in your area have the same idea, then your bandwidth will go down the toilet.

I had a play with LTE around my area for a while, and just like the cheaper broadband providers with SFA backhaul, once the kids get home from school the speed/latency goes to hell in a handbasket.

Wireless is fab while nobody else is using it.
Exactly !

Oh look we're providing you lucky locals with a nice cell tower to enhance your connectivity ......however there's NEVER a mention of its backhaul capabilities and if it's wireless backhaul peak time performance goes down the dunny.
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Offline Brumby

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I have an ongoing discussion with someone who (while not an idiot by any means, doesn't have a technical background) firmly believes the NBN is an absolute waste of money - because by the time it is finally rolled out, wireless will have overtaken its capabilities.

I'm not seeing that as a technical end point - but I won't dare exclude such dalliances from political origins.
 

Offline BradC

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Oh look we're providing you lucky locals with a nice cell tower to enhance your connectivity ......however there's NEVER a mention of its backhaul capabilities and if it's wireless backhaul peak time performance goes down the dunny.

Just to clarify my comment, it wasn't about the backhaul to the tower. It was that no matter what the backhaul is, there is only a limited shared bandwidth available between the tower and the handset. Sure 5G..blah..blah, but there is still a _limit_, and once you hit that limit you start suffering. Once people in your area start using/abusing it you *will* hit that limit.

My point was wireless isn't the answer (and therefore not more than a short term "viable alternative"). At best it's a short term local patch that will last as long as it takes for everyone to go "ooh look, shiny, I'll have some of that" before it goes down the toilet.

 

Offline Brumby

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... that will last as long as it takes for everyone to go "ooh look, shiny, I'll have some of that" before it goes down the toilet.

 :-+
 

Offline IanB

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I guess you're lucky if you have access to NBN. I follow someone living in the Brisbane area who could only get dial-up.
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Offline Towger

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My experience of NBN in Melbourne (fiber into the house) is that it worked quite well.  Not to sure of the top speed, but Internet speed is like megapixels.... Reliability and latency becomes more important in the longer term and wireless tends not to be reliable.
 

Offline BradC

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I guess you're lucky if you have access to NBN. I follow someone living in the Brisbane area who could only get dial-up.

We're relatively lucky in that we have an ADSL that mostly gets 3.5-4Mb down and consistently about 800Kb up. We are now on the NBN rollout list, but only because the Govt insisted NBNco lie and tell everyone they will have it by 2020. We know we won't, and we're less than 10 minutes from the CBD in Perth. At least the ADSL is/has been reliable, and slow enough that exchange/backhaul related issues don't trouble us.

If I need to download/upload a big file in a hurry I usb-tether my iPhone, but then it depends on whether school is in as to how much faster that is (download anyway, upload is always quicker).

My old man is on FTTP, but he went with TPG, so he went from an ~18M ADSL where he could max out the line 24/7 to a 50M fibre where he can get ~4-6M peak and ~20M at 3am. >20M at midnight on a blue moon, or when the TPG tech visits.

All in all the whole thing has been a clusterfuck of epic proportions. Designed by politicians to serve the telecommunications companies. To hell with the population.
 

Offline Halcyon

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Unlimited LTE would be a blast here(Canada) but is virtually unheard of. How many areas do Telstra have the bandwidth deployed to support CAT16 speeds?

Telstra 4GX (their branding for LTE-A) covers quite a large part of Australia.

https://www.telstra.com.au/coverage-networks/our-coverage

I live in a rural area. I'll do a test when I get home (I have a Cat. 16 handset).

I know a lot of people are concerned about backhaul etc... but in my experience the 3 carriers in Australia (being Telstra, Vodafone and Optus) actually hold up pretty well. I work on the outskirts of the Sydney CBD (Sydney as a whole has a population of over 5 million people) and I still manage to pull 45/32 Mbps down/up respectively with less than perfect reception, that's already twice the speed of my fixed wire NBN service.

Sydney holds many big events during the year which attracts a lot of visitors in a relatively small space, such as New Year's Eve (1.5-2.0 million visitors in addition to the people who reside in the city). Sure they might deploy extra mobile towers and adjust their networks to cater to the load, but it's still a huge amount of data going across the network and for the most part, the backhaul networks handle it fine.

I'm not suggesting that LTE or 5G will be the answer to everyone's connectivity problems and of course there is a finite amount of data that you can squeeze down a pipe (be it wired or wireless), but for every day usage, the mobile networks here currently are a very good alternative to NBN's Fibre to the Node or Mixed Technology (Coax) connections. We've just been waiting for prices to come down and data quotas to increase, which is what we're seeing happening now. There is also a fourth carrier about to turn on their services so there will be even greater competition in the market.

At the end of the day, the NBN is a dud for the most part. If you're lucky enough to have won "node lotto" (i.e.: You have <100 metres of copper between you and the fibre) or you have fibre to the curb/premises AND you're with a decent provider, then great. For everyone else, wireless is the only alternative and the carriers will need to step up and meet demand.
 

Offline tautech

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.............
If you're lucky enough to have won "node lotto" (i.e.: You have <100 metres of copper between you and the fibre) or you have fibre to the curb/premises AND you're with a decent provider, then great. For everyone else, wireless is the only alternative and the carriers will need to step up and meet demand.
Much of it is whether your local cabinet has fibre backhaul, period !
If it has then the cabinet can support faster HW that in NZ will allow 80 MB/s for (VDSL)close subscribers and 20 MB/s (ADSL2+)for those past the 500m limit for VDSL. Distance from the cabinet of course degrades performance but if the existing copper is in reasonable condition a few km is quite achievable.

There often isn't good understanding of all the factors that impact on DSL performance.
As some example knowledge gained from several years of banging my head against these ISPs our previous service was ADSL1 over 1km of 40+ year old copper to a cabinet of ADSL1 Conklin's supplied by 3 pairs of more old copper backhauled 4km to our local exchange that's fibre supplied.
Link speed to our cabinet was always 6+MB/s but the backhaul max theoretical speed was 2MB/s and due to the distances involved the best we could ever obtain was 1.7MB/s and only in the wee small hours of the morning.
Because the backhaul connection is always shared its capability determines overall performance.

It's all about the ISP backhaul and HW supplying the copper and little else !

So with a few years of discussing this with some ppls high up in ISP's and their 'pipe' providers it was made clear that the only long term solutions for the many thousands of subscribers afflicted with Conklin D-Slam disease here in NZ was to get fibre backhaul into cabinets and upgrade the HW one by one.
Ok, so I asked if those subscribers that any new fibre backhaul passed could grab a fibre link as it ran past their door. NO was the reply, it's only for infrastructure backhaul !  :rant:

It ain't simple, believe me.   :horse:  |O

If you get the chance, go find a little ISP that needs you aboard and then offer the big ISPs the Victory salute. I did !
« Last Edit: July 30, 2018, 08:18:37 am by tautech »
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Offline zucca

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FTTH is the only cure.

I would pay or do the job my myself. It should not be so hard.
When I lived in Milan Italy in 2003! F. 16 years ago, they got the fiber in my basement. To take the fiber to my basement to my apartment on the 4th floor was 15 minutes job.
The fiber is tiny.

I was so excited to see the little tiny wire going inside my home. Best 10MB connection ever, back on those days, it was 25€/Month.
Sadly it was the first and the last time I saw a fiber in a home... (I traveled a lot: Austria, Germany, USA, Brasil).

The radio stuff is good for phones, or for areas where homes are very isolated (like in Canada I guess).

In 2003 I was thinking they will replace all the copper in about 5 years...

Once you try the fiber at home, the rest is all crap. 
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Can't love what you don't know. Zucca
 

Offline Halcyon

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.............
If you're lucky enough to have won "node lotto" (i.e.: You have <100 metres of copper between you and the fibre) or you have fibre to the curb/premises AND you're with a decent provider, then great. For everyone else, wireless is the only alternative and the carriers will need to step up and meet demand.
Much of it is whether your local cabinet has fibre backhaul, period !
If it has then the cabinet can support faster HW that in NZ will allow 80 MB/s for (VDSL)close subscribers and 20 MB/s (ADSL2+)for those past the 500m limit for VDSL. Distance from the cabinet of course degrades performance but if the existing copper is in reasonable condition a few km is quite achievable.

As far as I know, all NBN fixed wire nodes in Australia are fibre back to the POI (Point of Interconnect). This means that any NBN customer (with the exception of wireless and satellite customers) can order services up to 100/50 Mbps (downstream/upstream respectively). Whether the copper VDSL2 connection between the home and the node supports such a line sync rate is an entirely different story. As you said, it depends on the quality and condition of the existing copper but also the gauge of the conductors and any crosstalk/interference on the line.

I have about 800 metres of copper between me and the node, I can barely manage 25 Mbps downstream line sync, usually it's a bit less. I know someone on this forum who is still several hundred metres away for their node, but gets close to the 100 Mbps limit.

Realistically, if the copper was in decent condition, I should be getting around 40-50 Mbps downstream.

As for ADSL/ADSL2 services, those are gone. Once an area goes NBN, all legacy services (PSTN, ISDN, ADSL) are disconnected and you have no choice in the matter. Either you connect to the NBN or you find some other way to get an internet connection. In Australia, those alternatives are either 3G/4G/LTE mobile services or non-NBN satellite (bloody expensive!).

FTTH is the only cure.

I would pay or do the job my myself. It should not be so hard.

I 100% agree with you. I get that Australia is a HUGE country and not everyone will get fibre to their front door. No one in their right mind expects that. But when I live 30 minutes away from a major city centre in Sydney, it should be a given that fibre would be made available. I would even be willing to pay a few thousand dollars for the initial installation. NBN in their wisdom allow you to switch to fibre if you're willing to pay, some quotes are in the ballpark of AUD$10-20k for a few hundred metres of fibre. Yeah, no thanks!
 

Offline tautech

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FTTH is the only cure.

I would pay or do the job my myself. It should not be so hard.

I 100% agree with you. I get that Australia is a HUGE country and not everyone will get fibre to their front door. No one in their right mind expects that. But when I live 30 minutes away from a major city centre in Sydney, it should be a given that fibre would be made available. I would even be willing to pay a few thousand dollars for the initial installation. NBN in their wisdom allow you to switch to fibre if you're willing to pay, some quotes are in the ballpark of AUD$10-20k for a few hundred metres of fibre. Yeah, no thanks!
We looked at that too......getting a private fibre line into our local area and then setting up our own ISP and it was certainly doable if you wanted to outlay the investment and be prepared to wait for break even.
But customers are a fickle bunch so who'd really want to attempt to convince everyone locally you have the only real solution when most ma and pa's only need to check emails now and then. Unless you have a really tight community and you're all on the same page it ain't worth the risk.
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