NBN drops short of expectations for Bega Valley residents

Rod Niemeier points out the inactive NBN satellite dish on his roof. He switched back to ADSL after two weeks because of poor service. Photo: Alana Beitz
Rod Niemeier points out the inactive NBN satellite dish on his roof. He switched back to ADSL after two weeks because of poor service. Photo: Alana Beitz

The National Broadband Network celebrated a milestone this week, claiming more than half of Australians can now connect to the service. 

NBN hailed the NSW South Coast as "one of the most connected parts of the country", and claimed its service can deliver speeds "eight times faster" than the majority of broadband services in the country. 

But many Bega Valley residents aren't as excited as the broadband supplier, with some feeling pressured, confused and dissatisfied by the service on offer. 

There is skepticism NBN can be delivered to all Bega Valley residents in the time frame promised.

NBN’s state corporate affairs advisor for NSW, Marcela Balart, said the roll out of the NBN network in the Bega Valley will be complete by the end of 2018.

Penny Papps found it laughable that her Tathra property will be connected anytime soon. 

"I only managed to get ADSL to my home a couple of years ago, and that process took almost two years with Telstra," she said. 

Ms Papps said Telstra wouldn't run an internet connection to her home until she applied for the service through a third party telecommunication comparison site.

She's not happy with her current service and wants to connect to the NBN through a different provider.

Because Telstra is the only provider for her area, Ms Papps believes the company forces customers into low quality and high priced service plans.

"They can sent images back through space from Neptune and Jupiter, why can't I get quality internet in Tathra?"

Although she looks forward to an improved service, Ms Papps is concerned technology will evolve before the NBN  reaches her area, leaving her and her neighbours with a second rate service. 

Up the road in Tanja, Rod Niemeier was eligible for the NBN, but switched back to his ADSL service after two weeks.

"There wasn't one day that my service didn't drop out on the NBN," he said. 

The installation of the satellite service at Mr Niemeier's home was free, and a test conducted by the technician showed his modem receiving 20 megabits per second, four times that of his original ADSL connection. 

But every time Mr Niemeier tried to load a webpage or watch a video, his internet would crash.

"When you've got everyone sharing the same service, it drastically reduces the quality," he said. 

"The technology they are giving people can't deliver the internet speed they are advertising."

The satellite dish is still installed on Mr Niemeier's roof. He is waiting for his service provider to contact him when NBN rectifies their satellite service.

“I’m lucky because I was able to switch back to ADSL,” he said. “There are a lot of people here stuck with the second rate satellite now.”

Sue Egerton is happy with her NBN connection at Tarraganda, but endured a frustrating connection process.

Telstra repeatedly informed Ms Egerton that her property was not eligible for the NBN, despite being in the connection zone of the NBN's online roll out map. 

Adding to the confusion, Telstra insisted she lived at an address she had never heard of.

Like Ms Papps, Ms Egerton had to go through a third party to access the internet at her home. 

"If I hadn't contacted a private technician I would still be waiting to be connected," she said. 

The technician tested the signal at her property, confirmed it was strong enough to receive a signal, and provided her with information to take back to Telstra. 

"After about three months, and an appointment that they didn't turn up to, I was finally connected," she said.

But not all residents are disappointed by the service. Those who previously relied on expensive mobile phone data for internet access are happy to have a cheaper alternative. 

In a statement, NBN said more that 28,000 new homes and businesses on the NSW South Coast will be able to connect to their service by the of the year. 

Ms Balart said construction to connect over 12,600 premises in the Bega Valley will begin in November this year. This includes Bega, Eden, Merimbula and Bermigui. 

Currently, more than 4500 premises in the Bega region can access the NBN.​


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