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Australians Want Faster Internet Speeds The NBN Can't Provide

Harder, better, faster, stronger.

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The majority of Australian internet users are opting for faster broadband speeds when they're available, according to the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Last week communications minister Mitch Fifield confirmed nearly 4.5 million homes and businesses are now able to access the NBN, but that none are able to access its top download speeds.

Nearly half of Australians on the NBN are connected with fibre to the node (FTTN), which uses Telstra's copper wires, and don't have access to the gigabit speeds available to fibre to the premises (FTTP) customers.

In February NBN boss Bill Morrow said that Australians don't want super fast internet and wouldn't use it "even if we offered it for free".

But the latest statistics from the ABS show that isn't the case, with nearly eight million internet users choosing to subscribe to the top internet speeds available – 100 megabits per second or faster.

"The ABS report clearly shows the need for fast broadband is here," Internet Australia's executive officer Anne Hurley said. Internet Australia describes itself as a "not for profit peak organisation representing all Australian internet users".

"It also highlights the fact that for many Australians – those on the inferior FTTN version – the NBN will prove to be a big disappointment in years to come," she said.

Hurley is calling on the government to abandon its "inferior" FTTN NBN strategy and upgrade to superior fibre technologies.

"In the past, when the majority of its customers were still signing up to the slower speed packages, NBN Co used this to argue that fast broadband wasn't needed," Hurley said. "So I hope they will now admit they were wrong."

Hurley wants the government to consider fibre to the distribution point (FTTdp) which delivers faster speeds than FTTN and is capable of being upgraded to full fibre.

Morrow has been promising download speeds of up to one gigabit per second since 2013, but currently no internet provider on the NBN network is providing super fast internet. The current top speed is 100 megabits per second.

Australia is now ranked 46th for global internet speed behind Kazakhstan, Estonia and Latvia.

Alice Workman is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Canberra.

Contact Alice Workman at alice.workman@buzzfeed.com.

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