Wednesday, May 22, 2024

NBN Fixed Wireless frustration

Where I live, in country Victoria, internet is via NBN fixed wireless. I pay AU$100 a month for unlimited. Signal strength was not full bars and would sometimes drop in rain - probably because the signal path goes through trees. Speeds were about 20-30Mbps download and that was enough for streaming video and video calls.

A few months ago, there was some sort of upgrade and speed jumped to over 50Mbps download. I was very pleased.

About a week ago there were three days of disruption due to an NBN "upgrade". At the end of that period, signal strength had dropped and speed was down to sometimes 2Mbps.

I tried the normal things, turning off the NBN box for periods of time and back on again, hoping it would re-sync or something. We have a Facebook group for local residents and I posted there asking if other people were seeing the same thing. Two others said yes so presumably there are others as well. A few of us reported a fault via our providers. I'm with Telstra so started the process via the chat. 

Note that they don't make it easy to report a problem and, I guess correctly, they said the connection was working.

The support people clearly use a script and even though I listed all the steps taken so far they seem oblivious of this and asked me again.

There are frustrating terminology issues. They asked about the "modem" and I thought they meant the NBN fixed wireless modem but in fact they meant the Telstra Wifi router. 

It's strange that they have no visibility of other customers having issues and NBN rarely seems to be aware of any problems. Surely a network operator has monitoring in place?

After several hours doing things including plugging a laptop in to the NBN device via an Ethernet cable they agreed there was a problem and escalated to NBN. A technician was booked to visit my house in four days time. Another local said she had an appointment on Tuesday. You might think they'd visit all properties at the same time.

In the end all of our visit appointments were cancelled and magically the signal strength is now better than ever and bandwidth looks better than ever.

However, during the outage period I decided to order Starlink. The gear should arrive within the next few days and I'm fascinated to try it out. I have some concern about obstruction from some tall trees.

It's great to have another option.


Amusingly Telstra just emailed to say the price is going up.


Brian VK4BAP said...

Peter, thanks for the post. We are just about to undergo the Fixed Wireless upgrade. I'll watch how it progresses. When they are working at the site they usually run the Fixed Wireless at reduced power. It sounds like they just hadn't finished the upgrade.
The complaints process is organized so that NBN don't get any complaints. Starlink is twice as expensive as NBN retailed by TPG.
73 Brian

Peter Marks said...

Thanks Brian,

NBN notified us to say that the work was completed. I waited a few days before reporting a problem. Looks like the price with Telstra is going to be $105 / month and Starlink is $130 / month.


Grant said...

Travelling out around Yea on the weekend I noticed allot of NBN fixed wireless on homes. Some were pointed directly at the roof and through trees etc. towards the tower. All I gathered was I reckon they don't get good internet. Whilst it is hard to support Musk, I've used Starlink elsewhere and it works extremely well. You should look at Aussie Broadband as well, beats Telstra hands down and support in based in Morwell where you can actuallty speak to someone.

Peter Marks said...

I certainly see Mr Musk as a negative for the company. Hopefully there will be more LEO alternatives in the future. Yes, I use Aussie for another account and it's been a good experience. The Telstra support people all had Indian names. I can't tell where they were located. All very polite but went by the script. Several times I had already told them something they asked and I had to say "as I said...". My guess is that they're serving multiple people at the same time.