NBN anger vented at public crisis meeting

Aiden BoyhamSound Telegraph

Baldivis residents had the chance to air their frustrations with the rollout of the National Broadband Network on Tuesday last week, with Brand MHR Madeleine King hosting a “crisis meeting” alongside shadow communications minister Michelle Rowland.

More than 50 people attended the meeting at Salvation Army Hall on Fifty Road, which included guests Baldivis MLA Reece Whitby, City of Rockingham Deputy Mayor Deb Hamblin and City of Kwinana Mayor Carol Adams.

A large number of complaints made centred around the speed of the NBN roll-out across the suburbs and the quality and maintenance of the copper infrastructure used to power the network, with the vast majority keen to highlight it simply was not up to scratch for modern internet needs.

Residents complained of constantly fluctuating internet speeds, with harsh criticism also directed at providers charging users for speeds that were nowhere close to those being delivered.

Home business owners with an urgent need for the best coverage also questioned whether they would need to move suburbs to work properly.

Ms King said some of the stories heard at the meeting brought home the impact of living in a “communications black hole.”

“From not being able to keep in touch with children when working FIFO or having to drive to McDonald’s to check emails, or having to leave home to use a mobile phone, these are things that should not be happening in 2017,” Ms King said.

However, while residents berated the state of the NBN roll-out, an NBN spokeswoman told the Telegraph its requests to attend the meeting were rejected.

“We asked to attend the community meeting at Baldivis, however, unfortunately our offer was declined,” the spokeswoman said.

“This was disappointing as we would have welcomed the opportunity to meet with and hear from residents first-hand, outline the time frames for the roll-out within the area, as well as provide helpful information about the NBN network.”

The NBN spokeswoman was also keen to point out that it was only a small fraction of the end-to-end network that connected homes or businesses.

“For example, in some cases NBN is just the last 10-15km kilometres of network, with the retailer service providers having a far greater stretch of network that must be invested in and maintained,” she said.

“The speeds experienced on services are determined by a range of factors such as the technology used to deliver the network as well as some factors outside NBN control such as equipment quality, software, broadband plans, signal reception and how each service provider designs its network.”

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