The NBN was supposed to be the 21st century technology set to change accessibility to the internet, but North East residents and businesses have been left with disappointment.
Single mum Toni Brezac lives on a rural Wangandary property with two children and, after she was told the old copper lines would be shut down in 18 months, decided to switch to the NBN.
Then the phone and internet connection was worse than she had before, frequently dropping out.
“I do feel we’ve been mislead a bit,” Ms Brezac said.
“I’m very concerned we won’t have copper wire anymore – severe weather seems to affect the NBN.”
A tight budget meant the woman had chosen what she thought was the more reliable NBN landline and internet over a mobile phone, and was left in the lurch when she needed to call someone to help with a flat tyre.
“I panicked and I had to walk half a kilometre up the road to the neighbours to use their phone,” she said.
“It really hits home that we are isolated, it’s not easy.”
It really hits home that we are isolated.Wangandary mother Toni Brezac
Ms Brezac tried for weeks to get her internet company to address the problem, but only had success when she spoke to Indi MP Cathy McGowan’s office to learn her rights and threatened to change service providers without paying any costs because the NBN was faulty.
Her persistence worked – she now has a decent enough internet connection to actual watch a movie.
“Suddenly, after three to four weeks of sheer hell, it can be fixed,” Ms Brezac said.
Dal Zotto Wines has reached the point where it is looking for an alternative to the NBN because the connection is so poor at its King Valley site.
Winemaker Michael Dal Zotto said the business used a cloud-based server, which could not be accessed at times because the NBN’s Sky Muster satellite service regularly dropped out during business hours.
“We’ll be working on it one minute, then it’ll be dropping out,” he said. “It’s a bit frustrating – we’ve got growing businesses here, we want what everyone else has.”
The King Valley’s mobile reception was not much better on busy tourist weekends.
“Don’t bother sending a text, don’t bother trying to post anything to social media to promote the event,” Mr Dal Zotto said.
He said the winery would look into switching to a wireless broadband plan instead of the NBN because it would be faster and better value for money.
NBN head of business, products and services Ben Salmon said this week the NBN rollout was ramping up.
“We are seeing Australian businesses, regardless of location and size, maximise their productivity and improve their work-life balance,” he said.
A federal parliamentary inquiry into the National Broadband Network is hoped to be the answer to a rollout “fraught with problems”.
Ms McGowan, a member of the joint standing committee looking into the issue, has called on Indi residents to have their say on their experiences during the NBN’s introduction to their homes or businesses.
“Rural and regional Australians are not being served well by the NBN rollout,” she said.
“The process has been fraught with problems in Indi.
“I receive more calls to the office about NBN and telecommunications than any other issue.”
Ms McGowan said the inquiry was a chance for community input and she would use the information from submissions to inform further action on the NBN rollout.
To make a submission, email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “submission to the NBN rollout inquiry” or visit the inquiry page.