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What's Wrong With The NBN? - This week on FOUR CORNERS

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What’s wrong with the NBN?  Why Australia’s fast broadband is stuck in the slow lane.

From the start, Australia’s National Broadband Network was billed as a game changer that would future proof the nation by delivering super fast internet services. Almost a decade on from those promises, there’s a growing number of angry residential customers and small businesses who are bitterly disappointed with the NBN. 

“I am a very, very frustrated NBN customer… What I’ve got is a trench running halfway up the driveway and a piece of PVC pipe with a rope running through it – and that’s all.”  Customer

On Monday night, as the NBN reaches a milestone, passing the half-way point in its rollout, Four Corners investigates the problems fuelling this dissatisfaction.

“Nobody knows what anybody else is doing. The retail service providers don’t know what NBN Co is doing, I don’t know what either of them are doing, and NBN Co don’t seem to know what they themselves have done.” Software developer

For many Australians, the NBN has turned out to be a lottery. Not all customers are receiving the same connections. And in some regional areas there is a stark digital divide, between those with high-speed fibre to the premises, and neighbours stuck with old copper connections who worry they’re becoming digital second class citizens.

“On the left hand side as we’re driving down this street, those houses can have access to fibre to the node. On the right hand side, they’re fibre to the premises, so this is the digital divide.” Former Mayor

We examine what’s driving the decision making about the rollout, and investigate why some customers are being short-changed on expensive data plans that fail to deliver what they promise.

“We definitely feel like we’re being ripped off.” Customer

As critics warn that Australia will soon be a decade behind its near neighbour New Zealand in the digital transformation, reporter Geoff Thompson visits New Zealand’s ‘Gigatown’, Dunedin, to look at how superfast broadband is transforming the way they do business.  Back in Australia, the government insists the NBN is going to plan and will be steadily upgraded.

“The NBN will be fit for purpose. It will support the needs that Australians have. But no network, no technology, is ever set in stone. There are always upgrades.” Communications Minister

In interviews with the Communications Minister and the current and former heads of NBN Co. we examine whether a decade of politicking has compromised the ability of the NBN to deliver for all Australians.

“I just feel incredibly disappointed that an opportunity to build a first class network that would set Australia up for the future was squandered, and squandered for the wrong reasons.” Former NBN executive

What’s wrong with the NBN?  Reported by Geoff Thompson and presented by Sarah Ferguson, goes to air on Monday 23rd October at 8.30pm. It is replayed on Tuesday 24th October at 1.00pm and Wednesday 25th at 11pm. It can also be seen on ABC NEWS channel on Saturday at 8.10pm AEST, ABC iview and at abc.net.au/4corners.

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