If there’s one thing many Australians want, it’s better internet.
Unfortunately, the process to get there - a $50 billion infrastructure project known as the National Broadband Network (NBN) - has been fraught with challenges, technical problems and political point scoring.
The rollout of the NBN is due to be completed by the end of next year.
Despite some of teething issues, the end result will be that a vast majority of Australians will have access to faster and more reliable home broadband connection.
If you’re yet to sign up to the network (and everybody has to eventually) there is plenty you need to know to make sure you get the best deal and don’t fall victim to a myriad of NBN-related scams or pushy tactics from telco providers.
Fake NBN ‘workers’ scamming Aussies
You can go online to see when your suburb will get the NBN, but so can fraudsters who target residents by pretending to be from the government owned company rolling out the network.
This week the consumer watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, revealed that Aussies had been conned out of an average of more than $110,000 each month between January and May this year by NBN-related scams. That’s nearly a 300 per cent increase on last year.
Common scams include door knockers pretending to be from the NBN or phone calls to victims attempting to sell them NBN services or equipment, often promising a discount.
Another common scam involves asking for remote access to your device and installing malware to steal personal information, including banking details.
The ACCC says that you shouldn’t ever need to deal with NBN people directly and they won’t contact you. So if this ever happens, the ACCC advises that you should hang up or shut the door.
But there are also other potential pitfalls you need to be on the look out for when it comes to the NBN.
Dodgy practices extend to telcos
In the desperate race to grab market share, internet service providers like Telstra, Optus and TPG will pull out all the stops to get consumers to sign up to an NBN package with them - even if it’s a bit underhanded.
Technology journalist Jen Dudley-Nicholson found that out when NBN came to her area recently.
She is one of the unlucky people who are looking at having to pay more just to access the speeds she already gets with a cable connection.
“When I expressed shock at the cost, the Telstra rep told me I should sign up immediately or risk being cut off,” she recalled on Twitter last month.
Rather awkwardly, the Telstra worker didn’t realise who they were dealing with, because she knew that was far from the case.
“Internet providers are giving consumers misleading (at best) information,” she wrote.
What you need to remember
When the NBN is switched on in your suburb, you have 18 months to move onto it and you don’t have to do it through your current internet provider.
“If you fail to switch after 18 months, your landline connection and Internet can be switched off,” said Finder.com.au tech expert Alex Kidman.
Given you have to do the work anyway, moving onto the NBN is the best time to shop around and make sure you are getting the best deal.
“If you use the Internet frequently, you’ll need to sign up to a speed of at least NBN 50Mbps. For larger households with multiple devices, consider NBN 100,” he said.
The ACCC recently launched a broadband monitoring program where you can easily compare the performance of NBN plans across the major ISPs each month.
And when you get your new connection, don’t be afraid to make sure you can regularly obtain the advertised download and upload speeds.
“If you’re not getting the speeds you pay for, complain,” Mr Kidman said.
“Your ISP is obliged to work with you to try to fix faults, and should make it easy to switch down to a lower cost, lower speed plan if your NBN technology limits your speed choices.”
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