Canberra goes wild for the NBN

Who knew that the humble folk here in Canberra would be the quickest off the mark to get involved with the, national broadband network? To be exact, Gungahlin residents and business owners are showing the fastest take up rate in the whole of the country. More than 4000 have already signed up according to Communications Minister Stephen Conroy.

With telecommunications a hot election issue things are going to get even more interesting in the remaining campaigning months. These are issues affecting everyone, not just the techies. While the government plugs the NBN the Coalition is trying to convince voters with its broadband plan.

It appears that some Canberra residents are already sold on the government's plans so it will be interesting to see how it plays out across the rest of the country.

Mine is faster than yours

It's all very well that on the campaign trail they tout their broadband plan as the best and the fastest - but how are we to know exactly how fast, especially when neither has been used and the Coalition's plan has not evolved as far as the NBN. We took a shine to a, great site that tries to demystify the differences. Most non-tech savvy people could be forgiven for thinking that both plans are doing nothing except to confuse them. This site designed by engineer James Brotchie will give viewers an insight into how each plan would work. By simulating how each plan would cope with uploading and downloading content it gives you a pretty good idea of which might be the fastest. It uses Facebook style uploads of high-res photos, downloading wedding photos, how an engineer might download really large, technical plans, and a Game of Thrones episode download to demonstrate how each plan would cope and how long it would take.

This site is definitely worth taking a look at if you are feeling slightly befuddled by the two different plans or simply because it is a novel concept. Broadband internet election pledges aren't exactly the most scintillating part of the campaign but this site at least tries to make it slightly more gripping.

What do they mean by fast?

When the NBN is finally rolled out across the country and installed properly it could be offering a download speed of 100 megabits a second which is around eight times faster than the speed of broadband available right now. HD television functions with about six to eight megabits a second and next generation television and movie content would need more than 25 megabits per second. The Coalition is promising that their plan would see twice the Australian average of homes operating with 25 megabits a second, or 71 per cent of homes.

There are already a number of retailers selling NBN packages to businesses and residents in Canberra - as many as eight at last count. There is a diverse mix of packages on offer, especially to businesses and retail clients with larger megabit capacity packages allowing multiple HD movie streams.

The price is commonly seen as no more expensive than existing packages and sometimes cheaper with packages beginning at $24 per month. A recent survey by the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network reported that 49 per cent of people said a new package under the NBN had no big impact on their broadband costs and 14 per cent felt they were paying less than before.

Rolling out NBN country-wide

Here in Canberra the work is well underway. The construction of the NBN in the ACT has either begun or is already finished in over 20,000 locations. The long process of rolling out the NBN in Canberra is making good progress and is expected to be complete sometime in 2015.

Across Australia as a whole the NBN estimates that more than 6 million homes and businesses will be able to access or be well on their way to receiving NBN services by mid-2015. In the meantime those rural and regional Australians who are eligible will be able to access better broadband services immediately through the NBN Interim Satellite Service.

So Canberra and the rest of Australia are finally letting go of the old copper wires that were keeping our internet access together. Hopefully no matter what the election brings we might just be catching up with broadband access across the world.