Carolyn Phiddian

At nbn we are working hard to roll out a broadband access network across Australia that delivers on the expectations that our retailers and end users have.

However, sometimes expectations don’t match reality, and while we are working hard to improve the processes at our end, sometimes this can be for reasons that are simply outside of our control.

For example, nbn is only the final link in the delivery chain – retailers need to provision sufficient CVC for end users and also have enough backhaul capacity in place to meet demand.

The hardware being used by end users can also have a significant impact on end-user experience – some modems will offer far better performance than others.

But even though these issues are beyond our control, at nbn we are committed to understanding the reasons why performance does not always match expectations and to doing whatever we can to improve end-user experience.

That is why in coming weeks we will begin a trial of a new diagnostic tool that we hope will quickly and accurately detect premises that may be suffering from speed issues related to in-home wiring faults.

In-home wiring – the copper cabling that runs to and between telephone sockets in the vast majority of homes – can have a very real impact on the quality of service that end users experience.

We decided to run this trial after an internal study we conducted earlier this year on nearly 800 premises found that, of those studied, speed performance issues identified in one in two premises on Fibre-to-the-Node networks were caused by in-home wiring. In many of these cases poor wiring caused download speeds to degrade by more than 50 per cent.

With good in-home wiring, there should be little to no impact on your nbn VDSL service. But in cases where wiring is old, poorly put together or where unused telephone outlets are still wired to the main system, this can lead to speed degradation and cause drop-outs.

Thankfully, there can be a relatively simple fix for homes suffering from speed degradation caused by poor wiring. The range of solutions includes moving your modem to the first socket, closing off unused phone outlets, installing a central splitter, or re-cabling poor wiring.

In fact, our study found that the above simple fixes resulted in an average speed increase of 55 per cent (from 30Mbps to 46Mbps download speeds).

As in-home wiring issues are beyond nbn’s access network boundary, we have partnered with some of the nation’s largest telcos to help us contact and connect with a select group of end users to test this new diagnostic tool.

At these premises we will undertake testing and a limited range of remediation activities – including isolating wiring from the first phone socket and simple repair and alteration of premises wiring – at no charge to the end user. 

While the five-week trial is being conducted on premises within nbn’s FTTN footprint, poor internal wiring can adversely affect all VDSL-based technologies including Fibre-to-the-Building and Fibre-to-the-Curb.

We know that VDSL is more susceptible to issues caused by internal wiring because it is more noise sensitive – this is because it is operating in a higher spectrum range. For example, a home with multiple phone outlets will create additional paths that a signal can travel down, which will increase the level of electromagnetic interference.

If the tool proves a success we have plans to make it available as a diagnostic resource for retail service providers to help rectify common speed issues experienced by end users.

We hope we will be able to share the results of this trial with our retail service providers soon and look forward to providing this new tool to lift end-user experience and improve the level of service being delivered over the nbn™ broadband access network. 

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Carolyn Phiddian

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