Telco troubles

NBNCO reportedly signed work orders last week for Aubin Grove to be connected to the National Broadband Network.

The southern suburb cracked a mention in parliament late last month as Federal Fremantle MP Josh Wilson complained residents were suffering internet speeds slower than developing countries — if they could even connect — yet had to watch neighbouring suburbs with decent services jump ahead on the NBN rollout.

“There are areas like Aubin Grove in my electorate which currently have no access to line broadband and where the quality of wireless is very poor to say the least,” Mr Wilson told his federal colleagues.

• Fremantle MP Josh Wilson is no stranger to telco issues in his electorate. Last year he was contacted by Paul Tod who couldn’t get his new O’Connor office connected to the internet. File photo

“While I understand that a program as large and varied as the rollout of the NBN has to proceed according to a range of considerations, it is difficult for people in Aubin Grove or parts of Hamilton Hill to watch areas that already enjoy ADSL broadband receive the NBN before they do.

Mr Wilson’s office told the Herald that Rous Head in Fremantle had also missed out on being prioritised for NBN, despite being a vital industry and transport hub vital to the state’s economy.

Aubin Grove resident Lara Kirkwood, who runs popular Facebook page Cockburn Chat, said she’d met a representative from NBNCO this week after somehow landing the job of being unofficial spokesperson for residents.

Ms Kirkwood said despite the advice about work orders and connections being completed by March next year, she says she won’t “hold my breath until I see that truck rolling up the street”.

Ombudsman

Fuelling her suspicions is that the NBN website has just been updated, yet her Peppermint Gardens unit near Rowley Road is still listed as merely “planned” for connection at some point in the future.

Mr Wilson, who recently sat on a joint standing committee looking at the NBN, has called for the telecommunications ombudsman to be given more teeth to handle complaints.

He says the ombudsman’s not been asked to collect data that shows what parts of the technology are being complained about most, while NBNCO and service providers continued to pass the buck over internet speeds drastically slower than advertised.

Ms Kirkwood said the NBNCO representative told her it wasn’t their fault.

“Apparently the issue is not the NBN, it’s the service providers who don’t buy enough data compared to what they’re selling.

“Then when the NBN is about to get connected they are flooding the market with flyers promising this and that, and people are signing up with the first one they get and aren’t comparing them to what else is on the market.”

Ms Kirkwood recently connected to an ADSL line after six years on a wireless connection, but says it took constant phone calls to her internet provider. The suburb is chronically short of connection ports so the only way to get on is if someone else logs off.

She says it’s made a drastic difference, and not just because she can stream movies now. Ms Kirkwood had to delay her studies because the wireless connection made it economically unviable.

She’d been paying $65 a month on wireless, but that only earned her 6 gigabytes of data. On her new plan she pays $90 a month for 1000 gigs.

Marnus Smalberger shifted from Hammond Park to Aubin Grove in December and it’s hard to believe he reckons he’s gone up the internet scale. In January he did a speed test and found his download speed was a snail-paced 0.08 megabits per second.

by STEVE GRANT

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