During a week when the New Zealand Parliament successfully passed new laws to support its fledgling space sector, NBNCo continues to grapple with how to stabilise the ageing and unreliable copper NBN. 

In the latest evidence that Malcolm Turnbull’s technology decisions are not delivering for consumers, the company in charge of the rollout plans to implement Dynamic Line Management (DLM) on its Fibre to the Node network in early 2018.

Many Australians know the experience of DLM all too well from the dreaded days of the ADSL2 ‘stability profile’. This occurs when a copper-based connection becomes so unreliable that speeds are slowed down through a signal profile change in order to stem internet dropouts. Consumer forums in Australia have reported instances where ADSL speeds dropped from 21Mbps to 6.1Mbps after DLM was implemented on a copper line.

In many cases DLM is simply a band aid that does not fix the underlying problem. Rather, it can mask a poor quality signal causing ongoing dropouts on the copper line.

Under the cover of DLM, issues can be left to deteriorate as a means to delay fault repair and maintenance. This risk is highlighted in a recent article from ITnews which reported NBNCo views DLM technology as a way to reduce the number of complaints from retail providers about dropouts and unreliable services over FTTN.

These developments also raise questions as to whether NBN consumers will be notified when DLM is implemented on their line, and how NBNCo’s business rules will interact with circumstances where the Layer 2 sync speed is reduced to a level below what the consumer is paying for. This occurrence has been seen on ADSL2 in instances where DLM reduced speeds to an ADSL1 service level, yet the customer would continue to pay for an ADSL2 product.

It is very disappointing that some consumers and small businesses will be forced to choose between slow speeds or dropouts over the copper NBN. This is the second-rate future Malcolm Turnbull is imposing on Australians through his flawed engineering decisions.

Labor’s first-rate fibre NBN would have avoided these trade-offs by delivering faster and more reliable broadband.

More than ever, the copper NBN has become a defining symbol for Malcolm Turnbull’s unstable and backwards-looking Government.