The NBN is not just faster more reliable internet – it is a complete replacement for the copper based telephone network.
The big change is not the speed (though the media and the politicians have much of this) it is a fundamental change in the technology – the change from analogue to digital. In many ways there are many parallels to the change from analogue to digital TV. The internet side of the NBN is relatively easy to change because computers already “talk” in digital. The problem is the phones and the phone devices (fax, EFTPOS & Alarms) that are designed to “talk” over the analogue phone network.
In a similar way to Digital TV, converters can be used, but they don’t work very well. They can suffer from echo, call quality and intermittent faults. When Digital TV first came out most people bought “Digital set-top boxes”. However this was yet another remote, more wires and the quality wasn’t great. Pretty soon people just bought new TV’s that could work on digital directly. In the same way it is expected within a few years most people will replace their devices to talk directly on the NBN.