NBN rollout still causing grief in Hunter

NBN rollout still causing grief in Hunter

‘CONTINUOUS BLOODY DEBACLE’: Gail Henderson at her Marks Point home on Wednesday. She has been without an internet and landline connection for the past 10 days. Picture: Jonathan Carroll More than 18 months after NBN Co apologised for the botched rollout of new broadband servicesin the Hunter, customers like Gail Henderson are still suffering.
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NBN Co chief customer officer John Simon apologisedin April 2016 after a litany of complaints about slow internet speeds, long periods without service while waiting for achangeover from ADSLandlandline disconnections.

He said at the time that customers had an“absolute commitment we will continue to drive these problems out”. Service providers had bought more bandwith so speed complaints “should be radically diminished”.

But theNewcastleHeraldcontinuesto document problems with the NBN in the Hunter, wherefibre-to-the-node technology is being married withan ageing copper phone network.

Ms Henderson, who lives in Haddon Crescent, Marks Point, has been battling internet issues since reluctantly agreeingto switch to the NBN with Optus in February.

She said her download speeds were often between one and four megabits per second and her connection regularly dropped in and out, despite a visit from an NBN technician in August.

“I was told I was at the end of the nodewith old infrastructure and would continue to have problems,” she said.“Optus provided compensation in that I paid half of the internet side of the bill for threemonths to allow time to investigate changingservice providers.”

Advice from neighbours and other service providers had suggested it was pointless switching providers.

She continued to have problemsuntil she lost her phone and internet connectionaltogether on December 18.

From this point she tells a familiarstory of waiting up to 40 minutes on the phone twice a day to speak to Optuscustomer support, conflicting advice about the cause of the problem and unfulfilled promises of a quick fix.

Finally, she lost her temper on the phone, prompting Optus to suggestshe buya five-gigabyte mobile broadband dongle to use until her NBN service was restored.

“That’s one of the things that annoys me: They don’t offer you alternatives. It was only when I went absolutely berserk on Wednesday, after I’d waited for 40 minutes to speak to a person,” she said.

“The only way I seem to get anything done is to behave like a lunatic.”

She said Optus planned toreimburse her for the dongle, although it was useful for little more than checking emails, and hadorganised to send out another technician on Thursday, 11 days after shelost connection.

“If you think about how long I’ve been without phone and internet this time, it’s not right in this country and this day and age.It’s just a continuous bloody debacle, really.I was better off under the old system.

“It’s not going to get any better until they fix the whole area.But my argument is they should be able to provide me with a service. And they can’t seem to be able to.

“If we have old infrastructure, why did they make us change without upgrading the lines. It must be costing a fortune to pay lip serviceto repairs.

“I don’t care who’s to blame. I want them to stop blaming each other and fix the damn thing.”

NBN Co said there were“no known issues with the condition of infrastructure in Ms Henderson’s area” and it had“a number of initiatives under way to improve end user experience, and are working with all our phone and internet providers, suppliers and other parties in the supply chain to ensure that residents and business owners receive a good experience”.

TheHeraldalsoapproached Optus for comment.

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