WITH the capability of technology doubling every 18 months, the requirements for a robust and responsive internet for our work, home and general connectedness is becoming ever more important.
At a recent community forum facilitated by Maleny Forums – a local group that raises local issues, increases knowledge and fosters local action – locals and businesses were given the opportunity to raise issues and questions relating to the national broadband network (nbn) and be heard by people with the authority to make changes.
Facilitated by Barry Smith from Maleny Forums, the evening allowed the 70-plus attendees to raise problems with and ask questions of Marcello Massi, NBN Co’s community and stakeholder manager, and federal Member for Fisher Andrew Wallace. Telstra representatives were invited but gave their apologies.
Mr Massi explained that NBN Co had completed its requirement to provide all Australians with access to at least a minimum five megabits per second upload/25 megabits per second download internet service through fibre connectivity, wireless broadband towers or a satellite service (Sky Muster), depending on where you live.
Maleny resident Richard Proudfoot said that the issues faced by many in areas outside urban township centres where fibre connectivity was available, related to the availability of service, quality of service and cost of service.
“Many in the areas covered by the wireless broadband towers cannot receive consistent service, if any, due to issues with the local terrain and tree density,” Mr Proudfoot said.
“This means they can only access the satellite service, which suffers from significant signal latency, is data limited and is not what locals thought they would be receiving when the national broadband network was being rolled out.”
Questions and comments from the floor backed up this scenario, with locals saying that they felt like second-class citizens.
“We all paid the same through our taxes for the nbn system to be created but we’re getting a substandard service even though streets not far away have reliable, fast and cheaper fibre services,” one participant said.
Mr Wallace suggested that people in wireless broadband and satellite service areas should keep their copper line to provide their phone and ADSL internet.
However, the meeting was told this was not a solution as Telstra was only obligated to maintain the telephone service in these areas, not the ADSL internet connections.
Although a recent announcement by the federal government will see an extra $3.5 billion earmarked to upgrade and improve the existing fibre network across Australia, bringing faster speeds to people already connected to the fibre network, there are no plans to upgrade or expand the local wireless broadband network beyond its current capacity.
There are also no plans to expand the fibre network beyond the existing limits into growing areas just outside of townships that are struggling with the inferior wireless broadband and satellite services.
Mr Massi suggested that people in these communities could pay to have the fibre service extended into their streets.
Maleny Forums is establishing an action group to follow up on the nbn network and service inadequacies and is inviting interested locals to be a part of the group by contacting them via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo: Barry Smith of Maleny Forums quizzes Member for Fisher Andrew Wallace on nbn issues