Since we here at gadgetguy.com.au haven’t been reluctant to give Telstra a hard time*, I should share the good news. After being locked into slow Internet for more than a dozen years, I now have fast Telstra NBN.
Okay, I pulled a few strings and was given priority treatment by Telstra. The net effect of that was a human contact point and bringing my appointment forwards by several weeks. But your actual connection experience should differ little.
Misconception about Telstra NBN
As I’ve mentioned, Telstra sent me a Telstra Gateway Pro modem/router. I’m sure its fine enough, and it does have the virtue of 4G fallback. But I was keen to continue to use my D-Link Cobra AC-5300 modem/router. It’s fast. It’s powerful. I know how to use it. And, most of all, changing to a different router would require reconfiguring a dozen other devices.
But as the date approached, I became concerned. Would I still have the same logon ID and password as I presently had with Telstra ADSL? The instructions with the new modem simply told me how to plug it in and switch it on. No further action required, apparently. Had this new modem somehow had my ID/password pre-loaded?
But that was simply a misconception on my part. It’s a fixed line. It’s enabled by NBN. You plug in a modem and you’re right to go.
Well, so long as the modem is VDSL2-capable and is correctly configured.
In the days leading up to the connection, I googled around to find out what settings I needed to make on the Cobra. Then I waited.
NBN is a monopoly provider. So even though Telstra is a big, and therefore powerful, customer, it has limited control over timing. NBN told Telstra that the connection would happen sometime between 7am and 2pm today.
Around five past seven this morning, my wife was wondering why something wouldn’t load on her iPhone. I looked at my phone and found that while it was connected to Wi-Fi, there was no Internet access. Simplest explanation: NBN had done the switchover.
So I went out to my office, opened up the settings interface of the Cobra and went to Settings/Internet. I made three changes. I changed WAN Access Type from ADSL to VDSL, changed Internet Connection from PPPoE to Dynamic IP (DHCP), then went to the “DSL” tab, clicked on “Advanced Settings” and enabled SRA.
I clicked Save and a few seconds later my Internet connection was restored.
Telstra NBN Consequences
Over the last couple of days I’ve run the Speedtest app several times to get a baseline on my old performance. The typical download speed was just a hair over 6Mbps, while uploads were between 1.5Mbps and 1.9Mbps. Latency was around 18 milliseconds.
Before getting to the new results, I should mention that those figures were a recent improvement. For years I’ve been typically getting around 5.75Mbps download and 0.9Mbps upload. What changed?
Two possibilities. One is that I upgraded the firmware of the Cobra in preparation for the NBN. Until a couple of days ago it had still been on firmware version 1.00. I upgraded it to 1.05. Hadn’t I been lazy in not keeping it up to date? In fact, I had been periodically clicking the upgrade button in the interface. But it had told me every time that it had the latest firmware. In my research I just happened to stumble across the existence of an upgraded firmware. Sure enough, when I went to the D-Link website, there it was. So I downloaded it and performed a manual installation.
Was the Filter the culprit?
I don’t think that caused the better performance. I think the other piece of preparation was more likely responsible. On the line to the modem I still had an ADSL filter. It was correctly wired, with one end going into the phone socket on the wall, the “ADSL” connection plugged into Cobra and the phone connection left unconnected. I don’t use the landline – all I receive on that are spam calls – but I wanted the ability to plug in a phone should I need it for some reason.
But the Cobra doesn’t support a phone line, so I figured I’d get rid of the filter and just have a straight, clean cable from it to the wall socket. I’m guessing it was that change which increased the download speed by around 0.3Mbps, and the upload speed by around 0.9Mbps.
One reason I think it was the filter is a few years ago I noticed that my speeds were slowing. They had drooped to perhaps 3Mbps download. At some point while investigating that I replaced the ADSL filter with a newer one from one of the several modems Telstra had sent me over the years. And that returned speeds to close to 6Mbps.
If you have speed or connection troubles, one step might be to consider replacing the ADSL/VDSL filter. Or even dispensing with it entirely if you don’t have a landline.
So, remember, yesterday I was getting around 6.1Mbps download, 1.8Mbps upload and a latency of 18ms. (Latency is kind of the response time.)
This morning on my Telstra NBN connection I’m getting around 48Mbps download, between 25 and 42Mbps upload and a latency of 6ms.
That means, eight times faster download, at least thirteen times faster upload and only one third of the delay in interactions. All that is subject to bottlenecks elsewhere, but no longer is my connection to the Internet the slowest link.
The most obvious and day-to-day difference with Telstra NBN vs ADSL is in Microsoft OneDrive. It syncs my working folders, phone photos and several other things between a number of different devices, plus the cloud. Often I’d come home having taken a bunch of photos on the phone and the Internet would slow to a crawl while all the photos were backed up to the cloud, then sent back down to sync to my other devices. Now? It’s fast and produces no noticeable impact on Internet performance.
YouTube: 1080p video now snaps into full resolution almost instantly. I can jump to any point in a 1080p YouTube video and there’s never a delay of more than some fraction of a second. No more of that dreaded “loading” animation.
Netflix: I searched on my TV for something in UHD on Netflix and started it playing. The TV went almost instantly to 2160p resolution and 11Mbps, kicking up after a few seconds to 15.25Mbps. That seems to be where 4K Netflix tops out. So I went in the house and fired up Netflix on another TV. It took about thirty seconds to work its way up to 15.25Mbps, but both UltraHD streams progressed perfectly.
So, yes, the NBN works. High speed Telstra NBN Internet works. I just regret that, thanks to Messrs Rudd and Conroy, it took so many years for fast Internet to arrive.