As a small business owner who works in digital marketing, there is nothing more frustrating than buffering content or slow download speeds. Slow internet really is a productivity killer.

My daily operations heavily rely on the speed of our internet connection. From website design to working in the cloud to hosting Zoom meetings, it’s all online for me. So it’s great news for myself and other small business owners around the country that our internet speeds are picking up speed.

The NBN Co now estimates that 90% of homes and businesses will have access to quicker, more dependable broadband with the ongoing expansion of full fibre to the premises (FTTP) broadband by 2025, just around the corner.

However it wasn’t always good news and you may remember some of the issues with the initial NBN rollout over the years. Here is a recap on how we got here.

Vision without execution is delusion

The NBN was initially proposed as a revolutionary project to provide high-speed internet across Australia, aiming to replace the existing copper network with state-of-the-art fibre optic technology directly to homes and businesses.

However, the implementation of this grand, nationwide scheme encountered numerous hurdles. The project’s cost, complexity, and logistical challenges in reaching remote and rural areas contributed to significant delays.

The initial funding expectation for the National Broadband Network (NBN) in Australia was set at $27.5 billion.
As the NBN project evolved, the financial cost of its implementation significantly increased. Analysis commented that the NBN could cost close to $90 billion once complete.

Any new technology tends to go through a 25-year adoption cycle

This quote is a general observation about how long it takes for a new technology to be fully integrated and widely accepted in society. The concept comes from a theory that looks at how new ideas and technologies become popular over time. Everett Rogers introduced it in his book “Diffusion of Innovations” in 1962. The theory outlines the process by which innovations are adopted in a society, explaining the roles of different types of adopters and factors influencing the adoption rate.

You could use this observation in relation to the rollout of our NBN, with the newest technology taking a longer time to come to market, despite it being the preferred option that would have delivered us ‘world class internet’.

In response to the NBN delays and budget blowouts, the government shifted to a multi-technology mix strategy. This approach included a mix of technologies such as fibre to the node, fibre to the building, and hybrid fibre-coaxial instead of the originally planned FTTP for all.

This decision was aimed at reducing costs and accelerating the rollout, but it resulted in a compromise on speed and reliability for many users. This is where the real speed issues started, and the broken promise of world class internet for all.

Many of us expressed dissatisfaction with the NBN, citing slower than expected internet speeds, reliability issues, and the continued use of outdated technology in some areas. The transition to older tech types was a point of contention, as it was perceived to limit the future potential and performance of Australia’s internet infrastructure.

Fast forward to today

Recognising the need for higher speeds and more reliable internet, there have been recent moves to upgrade the network, including plans to increase the number of households and businesses with access to FTTP plans, where you can get an upgrade to the Fibre Connect Program. These upgrades are seen as essential for supporting the growing demand for digital connectivity in work, education, and entertainment.

How do Australian internet speeds compare to other developed nations?

According to data from World Population Review, Australia’s broadband speed ranks at 138th globally, with an average download speed of 54.37 Mbps for fixed broadband​​.

The Speedtest Global Index provides a more updated perspective, positioning Australia at 73rd globally for fixed broadband with an average download speed of 115.52 Mbps​​.

While Australia’s speeds are improving, they remain behind the leading countries in similar regions. Countries like Singapore, Hong Kong, and the United States demonstrate higher broadband speeds, reflecting the advantage smaller countries have due to easier infrastructure upgrades and the challenges larger countries face in covering extensive areas​​.

So what’s next?

You’ll be pleased to note that we can now get fast plans up to 1,000 Mbps – also known as gigabit internet. Businesses can also connect to fast enterprise ethernet which comes with a range of commercial benefits.

With the acceleration of our internet speeds, we’re hoping for a boost to the real engine room of the economy – the small business sector. I’m hoping for faster connectivity and less internet irritability.