Jack McCaw’s NBN story

John "Jack" McCaw

John “Jack” McCaw

By Jack McCaw (@JacketMcCaw)
March 3, 2013

Where am I?   

I live and work in regional Australia. My background is ex-military, now IT based in Armidale, NSW. The city is famous for cathedrals, the University of New England and, now, for being ‘ground zero’ for the mainland NBN.

I was involved as a Technical Lead during a new network rollout for the University of New England in 2009, and saw first hand the difference a ubiquitous, fibre-backed network was making to productivity. Obviously, when NBNco announced Armidale was going to be the first site, I was happy.

How did it all start?

I began to monitor the approach of the NBN to Armidale, starting a thread on the very popular Whirlpool forums Sep 3rd, 2010 to track it:


I watched as it drew nearer to my place – I watched the NBN ‘switch-on’. There were dinner parties where a new NBN connection would be unveiled and we would all look at the pretty blinking lights and speed tests. I wasn’t happy with how long it would take for the NBN to reach me. So we moved.

Skymesh was the first company to have a flyer in my letterbox at the new house, offering a 2 month free trial. I couldn’t knock that back.

I had done my research on location and layout of the building and focussed on making it as easy for them as possible. On the day of the installation my partner was set to handle it while I was at work in Sydney. She surprised him by being fully conversant with things like NTD, fibre run and power requirements – don’t mess with a gamer girl when it comes to HER getting fibre!

The installer was happy with Plan A; lights came on and blinked. I had NBN! Excited speedtests commenced and for a few days life was a hectic blur of speedtests, downloads, uploads and media consumption.

What went wrong?

Then the NBN lights went out, so a support call to Skymesh went in. To have NBN and then not have it – junkie type withdrawal symptoms! Now I had the opportunity to test the interface between customer/RSP/NBNco at a service delivery level.

Potentially I was staring at weeks without NBN connection while sub-contractors were re-tasked to fault find. However thanks to Whirlpool and a very pro-active team from both Skymesh and NBNco this was not the case. The result was a rapid fix and follow-up to streamline the procedure.  Smooth, and the offending piece of fibre was replaced.

What’s life with the NBN like ?

I have a main desktop beast, a rack-mounted Xeon server and a media computer in the lounge room. My partner is studying fulltime via on-line on her laptop whilst being an artist who runs her business on-line, so we are pretty heavy internet users.  Now, we do things differently.

We consume media almost entirely by streaming. We communicate via Skype and Voip more often than we would otherwise, as the price barrier is just not there – so family and friends are happier. There is no conflict between her streaming in the lounge room and me working in the ‘cave’, so we just no longer think about ‘internet’ – we just do things.

Plan; Skymesh 100/40 2 Terabytes/month ($115)

Hardware supplied; NetgearWNR3500L

Read more:

Tony Abbott’s scripted lies about #NBN costs by @zackster

Why Murdoch’s media is gunning for your NBN by @sortius

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  1. We need many more stories like this.

    Is it as good as it is made out to be.

    Sadly, I will be among the last to get it.

    Hope I live long enough.

    Moving is not an option.

  2. Nooooooooooooo that made me so jealous. WE are still in red on the NBN.co site :( I want my NBN too, feel like throwing a tantrum now LOL!

  3. OK envy is all….gigabytes and gigabytes of pure packet envy great story Jack

  4. Woodypear says

    I hate you! Seriously, I’m happy for you. We’re not on the projected list of receivers but it’s great to hear how a bit of forward thinking is going to help everybody.

  5. Good luck to you, I wish my electorate was a priority and just think, the Liberal/Nationals are going to CANCEL regional genuine Broadband, what a backward step for Australia.
    I look like having ADSL -22 for good!

  6. Joy Cooper says

    We envy you also as we are way down on the list & only recently were given the privilege of ADSL2+ in our small town. The only reason for this was so Telstra could gouge NBN for the costs of this & the second rate connections keep breaking. People outside the town have to use bloody wireless. Grrrrr

  7. Thanks for the feedback. I hope I have conveyed just how a) important and b) how good the NBN is. This has given Armidale an ‘edge’, and I expect to see a few more people moving to get it. Good luck with getting connected!

  8. J.Fraser says

    If I could have the NBN today I would have paid for it yesterday.

    And the NBN can have that for free.

  9. EU

  10. FF

  11. Hi Jack,

    Thanks for sharing your experience.

    Yep agree 100%, I have the NBN fibre and I too just do things with the internet without thinking about it. I auto upload everything and auto share between devices faster than I can save and transfer manually via usb or hard drives. It just works without thought. I have connections at home and at work for less than $150 per month combined, including perfect quality voip. Perfect skype and G+ video hangouts and perfect streaming to TV. It takes seconds to back up my business records to the cloud.

    I’ve had about 3 hours without service in 3 years. Considering I was one of the first trial users that’s an amazing result. The RSP service has been great. I chose Internode as we only had 3 to choose from and they seemed to be most knowledgeable re NBN.

    When I have the grand kids on a Saturday night we browse for a movie and enjoy. No need for DVD rental shops or DVD by post. No need to wait. Buffering is a thing of the past.