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The NBN is Coming – But Don’t Panic!

The National Broadband Network (NBN) is being offered in some locations in Rockhampton, with increased coverage coming over the coming months to homes and businesses. There seems to be a lot of confusion about NBN, and what changes will occur, and how this will affect homes and businesses.

First, without getting overly and boringly technical, the NBN as we will see it in most areas of Rockhampton is of the Fibre-to-the-Node (FTTN) variety. This means that NBN Co. and their contractors are running optical fibre cables to various “nodes” or cabinets around Rockhampton. If you drive around the CBD at the moment it’s hard to miss them as they seem to be installed on about every second street corner. The fibre cabling ends at the node cabinet and regular copper wiring then continues on, and enters into your home or business. Because the length of the copper wiring is therefore probably shorter than it used to be, greater speeds are possible over the connection.

At some point, NBN will be enabled at your home or business location and notification from NBN Co. should be received, probably along with offers of Internet service from various companies. Once you receive the notification you have the option to talk to any Internet provider that offers NBN in Rockhampton, and then work with them to transition your Internet service and possibly also your phone services over. Note that you probably will NOT have to make any immediate decisions and will have at least 18 months of grace period before any types of services will be switched off. Don’t feel pressured to make any hasty decisions.

Advice for business customers is much the same, although in many cases you may technically not have to even migrate phone services to NBN. Only “analogue” phone lines will be disconnected after 18 months, whereas the digital “ISDN” services will not be disconnected at all. There may well be commercial advantages to migrating from ISDN to NBN telephone services, such as lower call rates, but similarly there should be no pressure to do it for fear of having anything disconnected. Alarm systems, fire panels, medical alarms and other critical services should be discussed with your IT provider or your Internet provider early on in the process.

If I were to distill my advice into a few short points:

  • Don’t panic! Take a deep breath, you have time to do this properly so don’t be pressured into making quick changes.
  • At home, go with your current provider if they aren’t causing you grief, but don’t be afraid to shop around either. The underlying NBN network is exactly the same regardless of Internet provider, although you may well find that the “cheap and cheerful” ones seem a little (or a lot) slower.
  • For businesses, talk to your trusted IT provider and have a plan in place, and be wary of plans that involve buying a lot of new equipment unless there’s substantial benefit for you.