As we focus on being Australia’s most innovative ISP, and grow our number of direct connections across Australia, we’re launching a new connection option called FastAF.
#FastAF gives users the confidence that they’re getting the best download connection speed physically possible.
Launtel were the first to launch Gigabit connections in Australia 3 years ago and soon after implemented a User Portal that offered our customers the ultimate flexibility.
Fast As Fibre is based on the new NBN 1000/50 connection being released on Friday 29th May.
Not only are we offering FastAF at $4.60 per day, but the Launtel User Portal also allows you to pause the service (stop daily charges) for when you’re away on holiday, change speeds up and down and of course there’s a 7 day free trial for your first week with Launtel.
Assuming a user decides to stay on FastAF without switching to other options in the month, the price for this “up to Gigabit” speed connection amounts to a market leading $139.91 (inc GST) per calendar month.
We’ve also invested heavily in our nbn network and backhaul capacity to ensure that you experience the fastest speeds possible without peak time slowdowns. You should expect minimum download speeds of 400mbps up to 950mbps.
We’ve also banished the use of the word “plan”, and are instead reverting to ‘daily options’ to remind everyone that you can choose the speed you have on a daily basis.
Over 450,000 Australian homes with FTTP and HFC will have access to #FastAF connections. It isn’t available to customers who are in our Vocus/LoLow connection areas, yet, but we’re constantly switching more areas on to direct Launtel Premium connections. There’s also a symmetrical option in there too for those wanting faster uploads!
Check which type of service and connection is available at your home anywhere in Australia here.
Thanks for reading,
Founder of Launtel
Damian will be live on our Facebook page on Thursday night at 7 doing an AMA with Tech Man Pat to answer your questions about FastAF.
When the NBN was first floated one of the primary goals was to “level the playing field”. Telecommunications usually favours the large player due to the amount of capital required for infrastructure. For 20 years Telstra called pretty much all the shots in the Australian telco industry and played a game of cat and mouse with it’s arch-nemesis the ACCC. Telstra was famous for favouring its own retail division over any of its wholesale customers for example. While NBN (along with the structural separation of Telstra) has done much to level the playing field, there have been a number of smaller, apparently less significant, decisions that seem to be going in the opposite direction.
Phil Britt of Aussie Broadband has publically criticised a proposed extension of the time before NBN will force telcos to switch off their old “special services”. Firstly I would like to point out I fully support Phil’s position, but I would like to add some meat onto the bones. Yet again we see the big telcos manipulating NBN to their own ends at the expense of Australia.
So why should you care? If your NBN is delivered over FTTN (Fibre-to-the-node) technology, which is the case for the vast majority of Australians, then a delay here will mean that you will have slower, less reliable internet for longer.
One of the downsides of FTTN is that it uses the same copper that is also used for phone lines, ADSL and also these “special services” – predominantly a phone technology called ISDN used by many businesses. Unfortunately when you run two copper cables next to each other, there is a tendency for the signal to jump from one cable to another – this is called “crosstalk”. The higher the frequency of the signal, the more that this is a problem and FTTN uses very high frequency signals. This crosstalk causes interference.
During the migration period when people are both using the old technology and the new FTTN technology (called in NBN parlance “co-existence”), to reduce this interference NBN have reduced both the frequency range and the signal power of the FTTN nodes. Because of this people have reduced speed and a less reliable internet connection.
Under the original FTTP rollout, there was an 18 month migration period when all the regular services (phone and ADSL) were forcibly migrated across to the NBN. There was actually no technical reason for this (copper and fibre run just fine side-by-side), it was purely a political and economic one. At the time the remaining copper based “special services” were the can that was kicked down the road to be dealt with later. However under the FTTN technology a decision to delay has real consequences.
Under FTTN the same 18 month migration period exists for phone and ADSL. We were all looking forward to the co-existence period ending after 18 months and people’s connections being turned up to full power, however because of these special services NBN still hasn’t turn off the “co-existence” mode at the node and is now talking about delaying it again.
So why would the big telcos be requesting a delay on this? As usual it is all about money. Firstly a telco typically earns more money on the old legacy services than the newer NBN ones. Secondly a telco has to engage with their customer and help manage the process for migration, this of course costs money. Thirdly whenever there is a network change, it typically is a time when a customer will re-evaluate its choice of supplier.
Indeed the biggest barrier to competition in the telco space is sheer customer inertia – if a service is basically working most customers are, quite reasonably, nervous to make any changes. This is unfortunately due to their experiences with the major telcos who regularly stuff things up during migrations.
The large telcos would very much like their customers just to do nothing and keep buying from them. However they are doing this at the expense of the quality of the internet for the rest of us. They have had plenty of time (years) to plan and execute this, if they are still not ready, then clearly they don’t want to be ready and are using this as yet another way of keeping the more nimble challenger telcos off their turf.
Posted on September 19, 2018
Any parent, pet owner or manager will know that the basic tenet of managing anything is that you do your best to encourage good behaviour and discourage bad behaviour. This is the origin of the old “carrot & stick” saying.
Each of us have our own motivations and what we try to do is find ways to encourage behaviour in the people we work with that lines up with our motivations.
So what are NBN’s motivations? There are three main goals set partly by the Government and partly by NBN themselves;
- Roll out the network as fast as possible while keeping capital expenditure within budget.
- Ensure the end customers have a good experience (“CX” in NBN parlance), both connecting to and using the network.
- Raise the average revenue they get from each connection (via their customers, the RSPs) to at least $51 per connection per month (known in the industry as ARPU – Average Revenue Per User). This is to ensure the long term financial viability of the project.
I’m not going to comment on the first goal, because this has been written about extensively elsewhere, it’s also not something that we as an RSP (Retail Service Provider), have much influence on.
The other two goals are heavily influenced by NBN’s customers, the RSPs. So coming back to my opening statement… wouldn’t you expect that NBN would support and encourage those RSPs that are helping them meet their goals? Unfortunately their actions to date haven’t demonstrated this, indeed they appear to be either doing the opposite or at best, ignoring the behaviour of those RSPs that seem to be aligning with their goals. They are behaving like the teacher who’s time is taken up attempting to deal with a few noisy, recalcitrant pupils who don’t want to be there, rather than helping those pupils that are interested in actually learning something.
The most obvious example is the bundles. In 2017 NBN had a big problem with two of the goals (CX and Revenue). RSPs were allowing their networks to become congested by not buying enough CVC – the capacity that NBN charges RSPs to deliver data to the RSP’s customers. This meant that end customers were complaining about poor performance (“bad CX”), which big RSPs where able to blame-shift across to NBN’s choice of technology. It was also impacting NBN’s overall revenue due to delayed take-up of services and people not interested in buying higher speeds.
So instead of asking “OK which RSPs are providing better CX and more revenue for us (i.e. align with our goals), what are they doing and how can we encourage more of it?” They instead went straight to “How can we force the big RSPs to improve the CX by providing more CVC to their customers?”
NBN released Focus on 50 and then the bundles, which essentially gives everyone a pre-determined amount of CVC bandwidth with each connection. Phil Britt, CEO of Aussie Broadband, was quoted in a presentation he gave to AusNOG: “In November 2017 nbn rewarded the big boys for behaving badly and the landscape changed again.”
The bundles were a short term fix, but they’ve created a bigger problem. While there’s no question it did almost instantly improve CX by removing congestion, the change was only temporary as our bandwidth usage has grown and we’re again seeing congestion return to some carrier’s networks. However, the second problem is that this has made it even harder for NBN to reach its $51 ARPU goal. The reason is that the bundles have homogenised the product offerings of RSPs. NBN have essentially told the RSPs how they should run their networks (how much CVC they should buy) by making it much more expensive to operate outside the expected amount. NBN took away one of the key unique selling points of those RSPs already doing the right thing: they damaged the business models of those RSPs that were generating NBN the most revenue per user.
Why is this a problem? In any market you need to have a range of products catering to different needs around price versus quality/performance. I drive a cheap Hyundai Getz because I am not interested in cars, yet some people will pay 5 times what I paid for my Getz to get a vehicle they enjoy driving or does more than going from A to B. That doesn’t make the Getz a bad car, it is just targeted at a particular market that happens to include me.
If a market is homogenised, i.e. all products are much the same, then the only thing to discuss is the price. We call this a commoditised market. This is very prone to happening anyway in the telco market where product differences are at best technical and hard to explain. This has not only lead to a fall in revenue for everyone involved, but has also lead to some atrocious behaviour with some telcos using sales tricks or even downright deception to get or keep customers, rather than product differentiation. The commoditisation makes it very hard for anyone (NBN or RSPs) to raise extra revenue by providing higher performance services, that at least some people will buy. Without the higher paying customers, NBN and the RSPs cannot afford to provide services to their lower paying customers.
Meeting NBNs Goals
For the record, at Launtel we aim to provide a very high level of network performance and customer experience. We do this by simply buying more CVC (“overage”) than most other providers along with an attention to detail and care around the support we provide our customers. We also charge more than most RSPs for an internet service. Thus we don’t cater well for those who are happy to accept a lower performance and want to pay less – we turn away people that want to buy a Getz because we are selling Mercedes. We don’t use tricks to get sales, we just let people try the product and see if it is for them – see if it is worth paying the extra money.
It should come as no surprise that we also provide more revenue to NBN per connection. As of today we pay NBN an ARPU of $55.24. In other words we are among the RSPs who are bringing their revenue average up, helping NBN meet their goals, both in terms of revenue and customer experience. You would expect them to be interested in what we have done, however to date they seem to be more interested in how to stop the big players from holding their customers to ransom by providing poor CX.
To be fair, NBN have launched a pricing review, which we have contributed to. Our submission includes a very detailed suggestion on how the CVC pricing could be restructured to encourage the RSPs looking to sell high quality/high performance/high speed/high priced services to sell more of those services. Many commentators would like to see the CVC charge gone, or have argued for the bundles to include more CVC, I don’t believe this is a good approach. It would just further commoditise the market. It would hurt NBN’s goal of raising the revenue it needs to further upgrade the network (e.g. towards the FTTP we know Australia will absolutely need within 20 years) and more to the point, make it harder for NBN to cross-subsidise the services for those who can only afford to pay less.
Don’t get me wrong I’m not looking for special treatment here, I’m just asking NBN to stop closing off a market (the high performance one) that would align very well with two of their important goals.
Posted on August 12, 2019
Summary: By manipulating who ends up own the infrastructure upgrade we can create a model that significantly incentivises people to perform a TCP upgrade earlier rather than later. Thus accelerating Australia’s eventual upgrade to FTTP.
It is fairly well known that the take-up of NBN’s Technology Choice Program has not been that great. When Malcolm Turnbull proposed his Multi Technology Mix model he said that those who wanted full fibre could upgrade for “a few thousand dollars”. It hasn’t turned out that way with most upgrades costing over $10,000 and many significantly higher than that.
So why is it so much more expensive? The reason is that NBN have used a “cost recovery” model, where anyone who asks for an upgrade has to pay for all the upgrade costs to the entire infrastructure needed to deliver FTTP to that person’s premises. In the early days, that even included purchasing an expensive OLT device – about $100,000 – that sits in the hub (often the old exchange). This OLT is capable of servicing hundreds of subscribers. We had an upgrade quote come back to us of over $120,000 because of this. They have since rolled out OLTs so thankfully they are no longer charging for this.
Assuming that this upgrade proceeded, the next person, maybe a neighbour, to upgrade would then be able to pay nothing for that infrastructure and just pay the extra bits that was needed – a significantly reduced amount. It is understandable why NBN did this, they want to make sure that any FTTP upgrades were at worst cost neutral to their budget.
This creates a significant disincentive to go first, a “first mover disadvantage”, which mean that few people want to go ahead unless they had a very high motivation. Unfortunately due to NBN’s high pricing of the higher speed tiers combined with a quirk in the CVC model, few RSPs actually offer speeds above 100Mbps (with the exception of us in Tasmania). So the speed motivation is not there, there are others like reliability and latency, but this often isn’t enough.
NBN in their latest pricing review is proposing some changes that will make offering the higher speed tiers (above 100Mbps) more financially viable for RSPs – in particular a cheaper 1000/50 speed tier. So this particular problem may be about to be fixed.
However what about the first mover disadvantage problem? Could we turn the problem on it’s head and actually create a first mover advantage and still not put any pressure on NBN’s finances?
Creating a first mover advantage
Suppose after an upgrade, the purchaser gets a certificate that details the upgrade performed and the costs of every segment of that upgrade. That person now “owns” all the parts of the upgrade. If another person comes along asking for an upgrade, that purchaser must buy all those shared parts from the previous owner – mediated by NBN. The new upgrader now owns those parts that were used in the new upgrade and is given a new certificate.
This would not require a significant amount of work, because NBN already keeps careful records of the parts of an upgrade and indeed many of the costs are standardised with their contractors.
The net result is that while the first mover still has to initially pay for all the upgrade costs, the quicker they do it, the more likely they are to be able to get a substantial portion of the upgrade costs back from other upgraders. Indeed the last person to upgrade would get landed with all the costs of the shared infrastructure. Of course there is nothing to stop the first upgrader encouraging the future upgraders by giving a discount on those costs. It would after all be a free market.
You could even see RSPs or other bodies financing these upgrades in return for receipt of the certificates. Banks could loan against them or add them to the mortgage. Consortiums could be formed that would pay for and receive all the certificates.
There are some variations on this that would allow each subsequent upgrader to pay a share of the costs rather than the full costs, but that would change it to being a neutral advantage. By making the default be “all the costs”, any variations can be done by individual negotiation. The important change that NBN have to agree with is to not allow subsequent upgraders a free ride on the earlier upgraders. The later upgraders must buy those certificates first.
Another minor variation is that NBN pays a lease payment for that infrastructure to whoever owns it (has the certificate). They are after all getting extra revenue from the higher speed tiers. While this may be a lot of process for a relatively small amount of money, it may be enough to partly defray the interest costs of the owner and further encourage takeup.
At any stage NBN could decide for operational reasons that they want to actually own the infrastructure (rather than paying lease payments), in which case they have the right to buy back those certificates at face value.
I believe this should be an attractive proposal for NBN. It ticks the boxes of not costing NBN any more money, turbo charging the inevitable FTTP upgrade that Australia needs and of course is essentially a free market approach that fits with the neo-liberal agenda that both sides of government seem to identify with these days.
Let me know what you think.
Posted on October 6, 2019