Beyond Tomorrow, The Future of Housing

Forget about flying cars, self tying shoelaces and hover boards, we know what the real future will look like and it’s ….. kind of already here?
Experts are predicting that in the next five years most of our homes will be completely run by smart technology, building on the success that products like the Amazon Echo have already had. Home automation systems will start doing more of the work for us, predicting what we need before we need it, essentially. So, at the moment we can build a routine by integrating a few tasks together, using one phase, such as ‘good morning’, to turn on the lights and play music. This is going to become even smoother in a few years, apparently, with our home devices getting used to our routine and being able to do things without us asking, like figuring out who’s home based on facial recognition and automatically beginning a routine for that particular person, like turning on the coffee machine and adjusting the heating. All without us saying a word. A.I will also be able to act as a personal assistant, adding information from emails or texts straight into our calendar and predicting, based on our habits, whether we’d like to hear about the traffic or the news before we leave the house. The interesting thing is, a lot of these actions we can do already with our home automation systems, like building a routine or asking about weather. The difference is in the prediction that our home automation systems will make it so easy for us by doing many of our daily requests automatically, fitting seamlessly into our lives. Experts have spoken of ‘Lifestyle benefits’ from these improvements, and it certainly seems like the future of home automation is going to take a lot of stress from our lives. I don’t know about you, but this seems more realistic (and helpful!) than a flying car.

NBN Co CEO resigns

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NBN Co CEO Bill Morrow has announced that come the end of 2018, he will be stepping down in his role, 2 years before the project is currently due to be completed. This latest high profile resignation follows chief corporate affairs officer Karina Keisler’s announcement that she’ll be leaving in the summer. Despite high praise for Malcom Turnbull, who said Morrow ‘turned the project around’, whilst the PM used the opportunity to take a dig at his political rivals, Morris leaves in a period of continuous turmoil for the company. Many customers have been disappointed at the speeds of their NBN, as they were much slower than advertised by partners like Telstra and Optus, the former of which already offered compensation to their customers at the end of last year. More recently the company have delayed the HFC cable rollout due to connection issues on the network, claiming to be focusing on a better quality for the customer, but it’s little consolation to see the new timetable delayed by months. Morrow himself has stated that customers are being left behind in the rollout and despite a positive outlook from the government, a 3rd CEO change in 4 years, coupled with ever altering plans from NBNCo, only adds to the lack of confidence from Australian consumers.

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Telco forced to refund customers

Two of Australia’s major telcos have refunded customers on the NBN “Boosted” Speed plans. Following a Watchdog investigation for false advertising on speeds capable on NBN Connections, the ACCC reported they are  providing more detailed guidance concerning  implementation principles for advertising the speeds of retail fixed-line broadband plans.

After Investigations the ACCC has forced opts to refund customers on FTTN Connections after it was discovered almost 50%  of Optus FTTN consumers on a 100/40 Mbps plan could not receive promised speeds, and 21% of that would not even receive speeds HALF that which was promised.

Telstra actually prompted the investagtion by coming clean that they had broken consumer law by promoting NBN speeds that it was not capable of delivering- Offering refunds to 42,000+ customers.

If you are not receiving promised speeds on a telco “boosted” plan, know your rights. You can read more from the Australia Competition and Consumer Commission HERE or if you are being kept in the dark by your telco you can submit a complaint with the Telecommunications ombudsman HERE

But if you are experiencing service dropouts on a HFC connection, or Cable broadband connection, your telco might not be able to help you. NBN.co are currently backpedalling on the HFC connections and blaming everyone else but themselves for the HFC connection failing, Especially concerning interruptions to current broadband (non-nbn) connections. Facts point to the government funded company being aware of potential interruptions to HFC connections further down the line back in 2016. At the time of realising this NBN.co were “not aware of the state of the Telstra HFC connection” and were not aware of the “optimisation” (repair) the network needed. NBN.co are now blaming lack of information and a risky judgement call as the reason for the pull of over 370,000 current HFC connection and ceasing the roll out of new HFC connection. The decision to halt all HFC connections and roll-out will result in an average delay of between six to nine months for millions of households looking to sign up,

(I’d hate to see the state of the Optus network now, considering NBN.co had already dropped the Optus HFC network claiming it was “not fully fit for purpose”)

Basically NBN.co is admitting what we already knew, they have screwed up the new network, and the old network in one big tax dollars black hole. Pulling the HFC connection will ultimately lead to more wasted money, and time. If your resident falls into the HFC / old broadband connection, and are experiencing poor service, refer to the link above and let the Telecommunications Ombudsman know.

And if you are not receiving speeds promised by your Telco, let them know first, and after they have “fixed” it then go check out the ACCC website.

Stacey Friswell
Article Author

Can NBN.co Lower Australia’s broadband costs?

A few days ago NBN.co released its new wholesale broadband agreement (WBA3), which has apparently been in the works, and negotiations for the past 2 years. The new WBA3 would focus on new measures that would be aimed at helping to “further improve the experience of end users on the NBN network”. With a major increase in number of complaints received by the telecommunications industry ombudsmen flagged this as a major cause for concern with the growth rate of service complaints wholesale broadband agreement Australia’s consumer watchdog has launched a public inquiry into National Broadband Network (NBN) wholesale service standards to work out whether regulation is required to enforce service agreements with retail service providers after a years increase of 159.3 per cent.

The WBA3 will bring NBN.co focusing on the service requirement of the wholesale service, which can in turn impact what is received in homes and businesses. With the increase in complaints and the public inquiry NBN.co are not concerned about cost of service as they still are over budget and in debt for the roll out of the NBN. With Bill Morrow, who said on 14 November that, “together, we are revisiting processes and making adjustments to make improvements at all service levels a priority”.

In conclusion; for the time being costs for broadband on the NBN will not lower.

NBN fake stats and false speeds

As mentioned in a previous installment the nbn cost is a hot topic amongst many Australian communities for the time being. As the nbn fibre network is still being rolled out and estimated to be finished late 2018 early 2019. But a more heated topic in the news is the speeds. With the many types of connections can bring different speeds per connection, what the public already using the fibre network are most concerned about however is the difference in official reports speeds vs. the speed they are paying for and experiencing. Under the new NBN program is you want decent speeds you will have to pay even more to ensure you get the speed required, so even when the network might be capable of faster speeds, you have to pay a higher rate to access that boosted speed.

According to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman
“ONE-in-four Australians are unhappy with the speed of their fast broadband connection,” NBN complaints are rising at a faster rate than the number of users. This might be because to install the fibre network to the pre existing cooper network the current service will get disrupted and crippled to do so. So even if a household is not on the nbn they still may experience drop outs and slow speeds because of it.

The proportion of national broadband network customers complaining about faults to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman rose to 0.66 per cent in the 12
months to June 30, from 0.50 per cent a year earlier.

On top of complaints to the ombudsman about speed and drop outs within both networks the other serious complaint coming out is about the lack of solid information available to consumers about the fibre networks capabilities.
Mr Sims said the ACCC is working towards retailers providing accurate information on what consumers can realistically expect from their internet service provider (ISP).
“We want to see retailers moving away from unhelpful, easily misconstrued and inconsistently applied claims like ‘up to’, ‘boost’ and ‘superfast’, and from advertising and/or providing information about theoretical maximum speeds that are based on wholesale inputs,” he said.

For consumers it is important to get the speed you are paying for, To get an accurate idea of your connection and use speed it is suggested to test your conenction at different times and days, and use an independant testing service.

Similar to testing services such as;

Speedtest.net

Oz Broadband Speed Test

Testmy.net

Mr Turnbull, who was communications minister before becoming Prime Minister, said many of the problems were caused by the way the project was designed. and recently publicly came out claiming that “The NBN was a calamitous train wreck of a project when we came into government in 2013,”

For the PM to say that about his own previous role, you know it must be a mess- even if he fabulously passes the blame back onto the opposing party. All Australia is left with is what NBN.co decides, so we as a collective must hope that the kinks iron out and Australia can catch up to the rest of the world.

Stacey Friswell
Article Author

FTTP vs. FTTC vs. FTTN vs. FTTB vs. HFC – NBN WHAT THE HELL?!

Consumers are left absolutely confuddled after yet again another planned switch in NBN plan. Recently NBN.co CEO announce the switch to FTTC to lower costs as many consumers have been unhappy with speed vs costs produced under the new ISP plans.  With many consumers still confused on the FTTN to FTTP shift which was discussed back in June 2016 AFTER construction to the Fibre to the node network had started. The change to the policy was announced in June 2016

” The FTTN roll-out will be phased out as soon as current design and construction contracts are completed”.

That’s right, if you already had NBN connection in your area you have FTTN which is Fibre to the Node, It was already planned and paid for, so they kept going.  This was then “fixed” by the FTTC Fibre to the Curb Policy; which again, if you already had NBN Fibre TOO LATE, they are not coming back to fix it. So what is a “Node” you ask? It’s like a central connection point, which a “node”are those big ugly khaki boxes you see on the sidewalk, well, you will be seeing them a lot more if you don’t know the ones. In fact, there has already been an uproar about the nodes, with some residents having part of their front yards taken away for them, for badly placed node cabinets. There are entire news articles and twitter accounts still existing, for poor citizens pleading to the the “node” removed. The node cabinet has brought other issues than just big and ugly, much more important issues.

For starters, node cabinets bring more things to hit during car accidents, and that’s not an easy fix, that’s an entire neighbourhood without phone or internet. They encourage vandals, graffiti and damages to the node, which means for tax payers dollars to fix or clean it. There has been reports and claims of node’s “blowing up” or “exploding” because of the large batteries in them, Or when they have good batteries, Thieves are breaking in and destroying the cabinet to steal the battery as they are quite expensive.

(Have I mentioned the Battery yet? your probably wondering why it has a battery?)

The Node connection requires constant power to be connected. So, if power goes out, so does anything that uses the NBN – including phone lines, Medical alarm, auto-dialler or emergency call button, Security alarm, EFTPOS or health claim terminal, Monitored fire alarm, Lift emergency phone, Fax and teletypewriter devices.

For the Homes, Businesses, Medical Facilities and Media Stations, whom all rely on generators and backup power in black outs. This Node Technology can cause MAJOR issues, as in emergency situations where blackouts occur, who can potentially be without power for a few hours – that could be a few hours too long, as the batteries can only last a MAXIMUM of 9 hrs but with use they expect a minimum of 3 hours.

With Australian storm damage, and power grid failures on the rise this is an increasing issue, residents of Brisbane have already been warned for the coming summer that the power grid could fail from overuse and last year parts of south Australia went days without power. if your mobile dies during an emergency you could be left with no way of contacting help if needed. THANKS NBN!

So What do all the types of connection mean? to put it simply

FTTN – Fibre to the node – means the connection goes to the node box, and then your house connects with the pre-existing copper cable to the node.

FTTC- Fibre to the Curb – means the connection forgoes the node issue, and runs straight to the footpath (curb) of the street, usually having smaller connection point in a pit in the footpath. (this also requires power, but also special equipment in your home)

FTTP – Fibre to the Premises – as the name suggests the optic fibre line will be run from the nearest available fibre node, to your premises ( this is an expensive option)

FTTB – Fibre to the Building –  Is usually in a shared address scenario such as business buildings or apartments – NBN.co will run a fibre optic line to the building communications room.

HFC – Hybrid Fibre Coaxial –  where the existing ‘pay TV’ or cable network can be used to make the final part of the Connection from the node.

To find out what sort of Connection you have Click here.

Stacey Friswell
Article Author

The Increasing Cost of Australia’s NBN

It is a well-known fact that Australia has around the 6th most expensive I.S.P costs in the world and the land down under sits well under on the list of world internet speed. Currently sitting 51st  for internet speed we are the lowest first world score for that pre-mentioned eye watering high price tag. Now the cost of our internet is not on the government (directly) It’s on the I.S.P

This is because of the few companies that have stakes in selling internet services. This is the part most people don’t understand; while Australia has over 150 + I.S.P. companies Telstra still have a monopoly over the country as they own and/or part own 8 of the submarine internet cables connecting the country to the remaining world. That -DATA?!- is then sold off to the remaining I.S.P’s or handed down to child and sibling countries. With Google, Vodafone and Optus part owning some of the remaining infrastructure.

As mentioned in the previous installation of the NBN train wreck pieces, the National Broadband Network is not a Telco but an infrastructure NETWORK, which is partly why the plans went ahead to begin with. Back in 2006-2009 when the network was first proposed, the governing parties in play first looked to the privately owned I.S.P to build this network. Which would of course allow one company to hold this said monopoly over the other businesses and cost of Australian internet. Telstra was the first to “bid” for a chance to build the infrastructure, with Optus choosing to create a somewhat partnership known as a consortium, with companies Internode Systems, iiNet, Macquarie Telecom, Primus, TransACT,  Soul,  Powertel and AAPT. Which thwarted Telstra’s bid, and left the government to reconsider this decision. This was the time the company NBN.co was created as a private-public firm

The initial predicted cost and time of NBN.co to plan, and implement the Fibre network was around 26 billion AUD and around 5 years to start (2014) and 7 years to finish (2016). However so far, the NBN planning and roll out has cost a recent estimate of over $50 billion AUD – that’s TWICE the amount the public was told it would cost.  not to mention the promise of the install being complete in 2016. (she writes in October 2017). NBN.co and the Governments plans have failed MASSIVELY on both the time and cost of the entire project. 50 MILLION tax payer’s dollars, also take into consideration that for the NBN to be considered successful according to CEO Bill Morrow the company nbn.co must make a profit, after repaying government loans and returning the government’s investment through dividends. And as stats prove for the time being this is unlikely to happen, with the current use of mobile data and the speed of the current 4G network (not to mention tech companies are looking to roll out for a faster & stronger 5g network).

“There were 13.7 million internet subscribers in Australia at the end of June 2017. This is an increase of 2.1% from the end of December 2016. Fibre connections grew by 49.8% in the six months between December 2016 and June 2017. There were 2.1 million fibre connections in June 2017, an increase of 123.3% for the year between June 2016 and June 2017.” According the bureau of statistics

Consumers were led to believe they could access broadband speeds of between 12-25 MBS for the same price they were paying for a pre-NBN service of 5 MBS. what they were not told is those speed come down to a somewhat lottery of cabling infrastructure that is pre-existing in your neighbourhood. Through NBN.co there is potentially 6 different connection types, with each of them capable of different speeds. To ensure you get the faster connection you can privately pay to have that connection type run directly to your house, and sometimes this may require though the streets. With the latest reports showing residents in Tasmania spent $91,196 for a single home. on the nbn.co website it directly states that to have this type of connection run it can be costly from $1000 to tens of thousands to secure your fastest option connection. Keeping in mind this is just the installation fee thought NBN.co, those poor residents then approach their I.S.P and pay a further inflated cost to secure a faster speed package the program says it will review the $49 billion NBN project as it passes the halfway mark of the broadband rollout. This comment comes as they announce to switch from FTTP to FTTC to lower costs

The next NBN feature installments will continue about the type of connections and potential speed, click here to keep reading…

Stacey Friswell
Article Author

WHY THE NBN WAS DOOMED

For many Australians the promise of a faster and more reliable internet service, would be a dream, easing a lot of work and home life frustration, and that’s just what the Government did back in 2007. The government promised Australia access to a faster, and more reliable fibre connected internet to service the most populated areas of Australia. The NBN has been a key issue in the past two elections however what most consumers are not aware of is that the National Broadband Network (known as NBN for short) is being constructed and planned by a “new company” according the corresponding government parties. This company designed purposefully to deal with the oncoming design, build and operate Australia’s new high-speed fibre network. NBN.co which was established in 2009 when the government first proposed the national broadband network should be run as a private-public firm to build the network. The government would sell its majority stake after five years (2014) when the network was fully operational.

So, what has EIGHT years of planning and preparation gotten us?

To put it simply; unofficially an unknown amount in debt (suspected just over 50 billion AUD), much of the nation pissed off, corresponding telco’s kept in the dark, NBN.co has changed the approach to said plan ATLEAST 3 times so far, and to cap it off it’s now 2017 and the NBN roll out is still not complete. The Australian government couldn’t organise a wet fart, no matter which party is currently in control – that’s not new news to MOST Australians. But how did this great plan go so wrong? And what is the nation facing when it is finally (god forbid) finished.

For starters the if the original concept and idea came from 2009 the plan was doomed to begin with, technology has come a long way since 2009 to put that into perspective

• the top selling phone of 2009 was the NOKIA 5230 (the iPhone was still only relatively new, and the model released that year was a 3GS)

• the billboard number 1 song in Australia was poker face from lady gaga.

• 2009 was the last year that Holden Racing Team won the Bathurst 1000

• Australia was protecting its boarders from the swine flu

• There has been FIVE prime ministers since 2009

Compared to technology available today in late 2017, we have developers discussing AI Technology, Telcos and entire companies introducing Australia to the smart home. The tech market has gone through MANY changes including

• the arrival and somewhat death of new gen 3D technology

• the start of VR gaming and headsets

• the revival of the mobile tablet with the creation of the iPad

• the birth and death of the windows smart phone

• Wearable smart tec

3 MILLION people more in the country and some of Australia is FINALLY being connected to the 2009 planned national broadband network, with the first quarter of connections being completed by mid-2016, it’s needless to say that technology has come a very long way in those few years since planning. As mentioned above since the first planning of the NBN we have had 5 major changes in government leadership, and that is partly the reason why the NBN was doomed, with the failure of political leadership, there was no chance the NBN would ever work out with all the political movements in the nations governing parties. None of the country’s leaders ever did the work of investigating and explaining what an NBN truly was. Contrary to popular uneducated opinions, the NBN and NBN.co is NOT an Internet Service Provider (I.S.P) – it is an infrastructure, like that of the city sewers, or roads. The national broadband network is (OMG SHOCK ITS IN THE NAME) a NETWORK!!!!

If you want to know more about the train wreck called NBN click here to keep reading…

Stacey Friswell
Article Author

If you think your internet is slow lately, YOU’RE RIGHT

Yes, Its true all Australians will be experiencing slow speeds until an estimated time of mid-october.

Internet users have been warned to expect a “serious slowdown”, as a number of undersea cables connecting Australia’s internet connection from Sydney to Hong Kong was damaged due to two typhoons.  The main damage has occured 54 kilometres off the coast of Hong Kong.  Internet service providers iiNet and Internode claim they have redirected the current connection via the US.

The redirection is likely to cause slower page loading times and latency and pack loss problems.

Here’s to hoping we be effected too much.

NBN Hassles

So, real talk for a moment, today I write this article 4 HOURS later than i planned to work. THANKS TO THE NBN. It’s the big subject in Australian tech lately, with a lot of contesting stories and reports, in our office we have a cable internet connection of current – a cable that the NBN program is ‘borrowing’.

Now I am all for everyone in Australia have good, reliable and secure internet connections. BUT it should not be at the detriment of current cable internet speed and reliability. NBN is great for anyone on ADSL connections as of late hitting 4m/s speed. but for businesses on reliable and fast cable connections are going to lose speed. and we have already lost reliability and we are sick of it, every time there is “maintenance” or “upgrades” we lose all connection into the building.

In a time, span of 6 months, we have had NO CONNECTION during business hours around 10 times each time for OVER AN HOUR, during valuable business hours.  I spoke to a NBN worker today during our outage, I ventured across the road and nicely interrupted him to check if what he was doing would be the cause for our complete outage. i received a sneer back and a catty response claiming everyone was sent an email warning them of potential maintenance times. I exclaimed how “nothing was or could be received”, and he then yelled back “well you should check you junk mail”. (I don’t like being yelled at so I got a bit snarky now)

So In response “I’m sorry sir, but we have complete control over our email server and we have received no emails or ‘junk’ claiming the NBN could cause outages for our paid service. this is ridiculous. I understand you have a job to do but I assure you the depart in control of the NBN installation does not send warning emails, as they have not collected anyone’s emails to send said emails, so there is nowhere for them to send them. Just hurry up because you are messing with our business.”

Then in a last attempt to get some sort of internet into the building I went to garden city Telstra store t but a 4g wireless modem, and the store manager of Telstra sided with me claiming they get told the same thing AND THEY ARE THE SERVICE PROVIDER who should keep to their service contract.

But a huge thanks to Telstra who came through for use with free couple gig of data to use for the day, helping the office get all the work done as we ended up being without internet for 3 hrs on that particular day

All in all, we at about automation are completely on the fence of the NBN coming. For our actual USE of the NBN we are expecting SLOWER and LESS RELIABLE speeds, we are already sick to death of the drop outs. We sincerely hope that all this drama is worth at least something for some Australians, considering how much the government is spending on these upgrades.

SOURCES