NBN woes for Watson residents

By 24 January, 2013 31

The National Broadband Network is only weeks away from a rollout to around 14,000 homes in Gungahlin. It heralds a shiny-bright future of super-fast connection speeds amid promises to “transform Australia as much as the telegraph, railways and highways did for previous generations”.

But this dream has been nothing more than a nightmare for a group of residents in the north Watson development, The Fair.

In late June last year, residents moving into their new, two-storey complex of 12 two-bedroom units were informed that their homes were NBN Ready and only a number of weeks away from connection. Many of them first home owners, they had no reason to expect the frustration, legal loopholes and vague updates from NBNCo that were to come.

Being what is termed a “Greenfields” area, The Fair boasts only the latest in NBN-ready cabling and none of those copper wires that older houses get their phone and internet from. This means that residents cannot access a traditional landline phone or any form of cabled internet connection. NBNCo also does not have the same obligations as Telstra under the Universal Service Obligation, so until a service can be provided, residents of a suburb barely 10km from the centre of the nation’s capital must make do with mobile phones and 3G services, or satellite services usually reserved for those in remote rural locations.

Playing the waiting game was almost fun for the residents in the first couple of weeks, with anticipation building until the first rumour of delay came via service providers who could not even find Whitmore Cres on a map.

Getting connection dates from NBNCo has been like pulling teeth, with residents being given rough estimates that edged steadily closer to the end of the year. Soon “in around two weeks” became “late August”, then “October”, then “November”. Upon contacting  NBNCo in late November, residents were assured a January 2013 connection date, which was later confirmed by a document on the NBNCo website.

In early January, residents again contacted NBNCo for a more exact connection date. After two weeks of chasing this, one resident received this response today:

“We have run into a few small issues with regards to connectivity to Block 138 which we are working through. It is envisaged that we should be able to get services connected in early March but potentially a little earlier.”

If “small issues” can cause a seven month delay, it begs the question of what issue NBNCo might consider big.

The residents of the complex at Whitmore Cres have watched in frustration as every other home in their development received its connection to the NBN. They are not sure whether to believe that March will bring a connection either.

Despite an overall trend away from landline phones, a number of residents in the complex are eager to have theirs connected. Calling relatives and friends both interstate and overseas can really add up on a mobile phone. One young woman, whose family lives in rural NSW, can’t wait to be able to have long phone conversations with them again. This morning, after hearing of the latest delay, she commented on Twitter:

“This was beyond a joke months ago. Now I don’t even know what it is.”

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31 Responses to NBN woes for Watson residents
#1
aidan2:50 pm, 24 Jan 13

Telecommunications Ombudsman

#2
arescarti423:19 pm, 24 Jan 13

Yikes, that sounds horrendous.

FYI, you are probably in range of Apex Telecom’s Direct wireless service, which should deliver pretty decent broadband speeds and Voip at good prices, rather than using expensive 3G and mobile services.

#3
Pitchka3:20 pm, 24 Jan 13

aidan said :

Telecommunications Ombudsman

Will do what exactly? You go to them to complain about an existing service you have, not a service you want/were promised and are still waiting for…

#4
watto233:28 pm, 24 Jan 13

There are probably a lot of people who could be blamed here from the developers to NBNco and as a result there will be a lot of passing the buck. If the NBN had bipartisan support like it should have, alot of the perceived problems probably go away.

#5
Jivrashia3:34 pm, 24 Jan 13

Put it on whirlpool.net.au.

You’ll get better exposure there, and will be looked by a NBNCo rep.

#6
rosscoact3:49 pm, 24 Jan 13

That must be extremely frustrating for you and it seems we’re powerless to do anything about NBN Co incompetence and inability to do anything except fudge the figures.

#7
Baggy4:00 pm, 24 Jan 13

Unfortunately, there is a reason NBNCo can boast several times more employees than customers (as at Oct Estimates).

#8
Chop714:47 pm, 24 Jan 13

If this happens in a new development, can’t wait to see the delays for the rest of Canberra.

3 years, my A@SE

#9
shirty_bear5:02 pm, 24 Jan 13

Baggy said :

Unfortunately, there is a reason NBNCo can boast several times more employees than customers (as at Oct Estimates) …

This made me laugh.

The NBN is *so* full of dumb.

#10
Deckard7:22 pm, 24 Jan 13

Baggy said :

Unfortunately, there is a reason NBNCo can boast several times more employees than customers (as at Oct Estimates).

Which is?

#11
gooterz8:25 pm, 24 Jan 13

Lucky Transact are upgrading things

NBN is literally a pipe dream

#12
vet1118:38 am, 25 Jan 13

watto23 said :

There are probably a lot of people who could be blamed here from the developers to NBNco and as a result there will be a lot of passing the buck. If the NBN had bipartisan support like it should have, alot of the perceived problems probably go away.

It’s pretty talented to blame the incompetencies of a private company on the opposition (not). If the NBNCo was established as a government entity, accountability would be paramount and processes would be transparent. See what I did there? Put the blame squarely where it lies.

To the OP, I recall a rumour that NBNCo aren’t going into multi-tenanted sites (ie apartments) until the last stage of the rollout. Might be worth doing some research….

#13
johnboy8:57 am, 25 Jan 13

Intriguingly Senator Conroy’s office have been in touch and their email has been passed on to MissKitty.

#14
misskitty9:19 am, 25 Jan 13

johnboy said :

Intriguingly Senator Conroy’s office have been in touch and their email has been passed on to MissKitty.

Intriguingly, I haven’t received anything.

#15
misskitty9:22 am, 25 Jan 13

misskitty said :

johnboy said :

Intriguingly Senator Conroy’s office have been in touch and their email has been passed on to MissKitty.

Intriguingly, I haven’t received anything.

Nevermind, it just came through. Thanks for passing it on.

I had been acting under the advice I received from ACMA some months ago that I was outside the USO.

#16
misskitty9:25 am, 25 Jan 13

vet111 said :

To the OP, I recall a rumour that NBNCo aren’t going into multi-tenanted sites (ie apartments) until the last stage of the rollout. Might be worth doing some research….

Unfortunately, there are other multi-tenanted sites in our estate who are connected, so this just isn’t the case.

#17
Chop719:27 am, 25 Jan 13

We’ve got a great big Convoy,
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JuyLTDAC7fE

#18
Bosworth11:41 am, 25 Jan 13

Call Mike Quigley to discuss your concerns.

#19
watto2312:47 pm, 25 Jan 13

gooterz said :

Lucky Transact are upgrading things

NBN is literally a pipe dream

Depends, there are plenty of suburbs where Transact doesn’t exist, because they decided it was not as good a profit as others……

#20
watto2312:56 pm, 25 Jan 13

vet111 said :

watto23 said :

There are probably a lot of people who could be blamed here from the developers to NBNco and as a result there will be a lot of passing the buck. If the NBN had bipartisan support like it should have, alot of the perceived problems probably go away.

It’s pretty talented to blame the incompetencies of a private company on the opposition (not). If the NBNCo was established as a government entity, accountability would be paramount and processes would be transparent. See what I did there? Put the blame squarely where it lies.

To the OP, I recall a rumour that NBNCo aren’t going into multi-tenanted sites (ie apartments) until the last stage of the rollout. Might be worth doing some research….

Yes and No. I’d imagine the NBNco are under a lot of scutiny here, so every little problem gets reported. As I said if it had bi-partisan support the pronlems go away, ie into the ether as the journalists focus on something else. I’d also think they are under cost pressure, because the government has made promises regarding the cost, thus the rollout isn’t occuring as quickly as possible.

Not trying to defend them, but as someone who has worked in much smaller rollouts, you are continually having outside pressure stating what they want, with complete disregard for how the project is going, thus parts of the project suffer.

#21
vet1111:59 pm, 25 Jan 13

watto23 said :

vet111 said :

watto23 said :

There are probably a lot of people who could be blamed here from the developers to NBNco and as a result there will be a lot of passing the buck. If the NBN had bipartisan support like it should have, alot of the perceived problems probably go away.

It’s pretty talented to blame the incompetencies of a private company on the opposition (not). If the NBNCo was established as a government entity, accountability would be paramount and processes would be transparent. See what I did there? Put the blame squarely where it lies.

To the OP, I recall a rumour that NBNCo aren’t going into multi-tenanted sites (ie apartments) until the last stage of the rollout. Might be worth doing some research….

Yes and No. I’d imagine the NBNco are under a lot of scutiny here, so every little problem gets reported. As I said if it had bi-partisan support the pronlems go away, ie into the ether as the journalists focus on something else. I’d also think they are under cost pressure, because the government has made promises regarding the cost, thus the rollout isn’t occuring as quickly as possible.

Not trying to defend them, but as someone who has worked in much smaller rollouts, you are continually having outside pressure stating what they want, with complete disregard for how the project is going, thus parts of the project suffer.

Thanks for the response.

I respectfully disagree though, or maybe I don’t understand what you’re saying. I take your comment above to mean that if there was bipartisan support, the opposition wouldn’t be gunning for media attention on issues. But that doesn’t mean the issues wouldn’t exist – the problems would still be there, but we would have no way of knowing about them. I don’t agree with that, and I don’t think it’s a good way to run a government infrastructure project of significant cost to the public purse.

I agree 100% with your comments re: cost pressures. NBNCo and the government have now forced themselves into a no-win situation – either the cost blows out (again) to keep the rollout on schedule, or the rollout is delayed to keep costs at current projections. Was there some particularly shoddy number crunching going on in the initial phases of development, or what? Blind Freddy could see that something like this would happen. Anyone would think the ACT Government was behind it….

#22
Grrrr2:11 pm, 25 Jan 13

So, how many residences are delayed, exactly? All of the residences in 18 Whitmore Cres? 1 residence in 18 Whitmore Cres? Others outside 18 Whitmore?

I understand 7 months is a ridiculous wait for internet, but there’s hundreds of new places in the NBN Footprint at Watson, and there were stories in the news months ago about people who’d just connected to the NBN there so I’m curious to know how many people are impacted.

Also, what are the reasons for the delay? Legal loopholes are mentioned – whose hole are they? NBNco’s, the ACT Govt or the developers?

Advice to “One young woman, whose family lives in rural NSW”: Mobile phone plans with unlimited minutes are widely available and many are dirt cheap (particular the ones offered by MVNO’s.) Get one and she can have all the long conversations she wants.

#23
misskitty7:42 pm, 25 Jan 13

Grrrr said :

So, how many residences are delayed, exactly? All of the residences in 18 Whitmore Cres? 1 residence in 18 Whitmore Cres? Others outside 18 Whitmore?

I understand 7 months is a ridiculous wait for internet, but there’s hundreds of new places in the NBN Footprint at Watson, and there were stories in the news months ago about people who’d just connected to the NBN there so I’m curious to know how many people are impacted.

As I said in the article, 12 units in this complex and all of them without a connection. The rest of The Fair is connected.

misskitty said :

Also, what are the reasons for the delay? Legal loopholes are mentioned – whose hole are they? NBNco’s, the ACT Govt or the developers?

We have been given no explanation in the seven months we’ve been seeking one, from any authority.

#24
frankie12:46 pm, 28 Jan 13

misskitty said :

Grrrr said :

So, how many residences are delayed, exactly? All of the residences in 18 Whitmore Cres? 1 residence in 18 Whitmore Cres? Others outside 18 Whitmore?

I understand 7 months is a ridiculous wait for internet, but there’s hundreds of new places in the NBN Footprint at Watson, and there were stories in the news months ago about people who’d just connected to the NBN there so I’m curious to know how many people are impacted.

As I said in the article, 12 units in this complex and all of them without a connection. The rest of The Fair is connected.

frankie said :

Also, what are the reasons for the delay? Legal loopholes are mentioned – whose hole are they? NBNco’s, the ACT Govt or the developers?

We have been given no explanation in the seven months we’ve been seeking one, from any authority.

The same delays have been felt in West Macgregor Stage 4. People started moving into the area in September last year and were told that the NBN would be ready “in a few weeks”. All homes in Stage 4 are greenfields fibre connections as well, but still nothing. We’ve been on terrible, horrible wifi connections that frequently disconnect on 1Mbps download speed for the last 5 months now. Stage 3 (i.e. the street behind us) has had NBN at the same time as the other Watson area that has NBN enabled.

The worst part of it is that NBN Co will not give any explanation whatsoever… not even a “our guys are on holiday” or “we ran out of cable” or … anything.

#25
Grrrr2:38 pm, 28 Jan 13

frankie said :

We’ve been on terrible, horrible wifi connections

I think you mean 3G connections (AKA “mobile broadband”) which use the mobile phone networks and are unrelated to WiFi.

Are the slow speeds due to congestion, or low signal strength? If the latter, you can get external 3G antennas relatively cheap..

#26
Grrrr2:48 pm, 28 Jan 13

gooterz said :

Lucky Transact are upgrading things

NBN is literally a pipe dream

Yes, a pipe dream .. except for everyone who has it connected. :P

Lucky TransACT are upgrading things indeed. I’ve lived within either a VDSL or FTTH area since it was installed and:
- FTTH was (until just recently) a lot more expensive than the NBN. Now it costs the same. No win there. It’s availability is limited to a couple of suburbs.
- VDSL2 rollout is, after 3 years, only available to ~3% of homes in the ACT (or ~10% of the VDSL footprint.) VDSL2 is not as fast as the NBN (100/40mbit vs 60/15) and a lot of subscribers – if/when they finally get it – will not see the full speed either. That’s just the line rate – you then have to choose between basically only 3 ISPs who go from OK to average.

TransACT are now owned by a company who give a damn, but the service is crap and will remain so for the near future.

#27
gooterz4:24 pm, 28 Jan 13

watto23 said :

gooterz said :

Lucky Transact are upgrading things

NBN is literally a pipe dream

Depends, there are plenty of suburbs where Transact doesn’t exist, because they decided it was not as good a profit as others……

Transact didn’t cherrypick on purpose, they expected a bigger take up and ran out of cash. Similar to NBN same concept 15 years apart

#28
misskitty9:26 am, 29 Jan 13

frankie said :

The same delays have been felt in West Macgregor Stage 4. People started moving into the area in September last year and were told that the NBN would be ready “in a few weeks”. All homes in Stage 4 are greenfields fibre connections as well, but still nothing. We’ve been on terrible, horrible wifi connections that frequently disconnect on 1Mbps download speed for the last 5 months now. Stage 3 (i.e. the street behind us) has had NBN at the same time as the other Watson area that has NBN enabled.

The worst part of it is that NBN Co will not give any explanation whatsoever… not even a “our guys are on holiday” or “we ran out of cable” or … anything.

I completely agree that the no explanation thing is the worst part.

I’m sorry to hear that you’re having the same problems as us – but perhaps if we all band together it might be easier to get some results!

#29
watto2311:38 am, 29 Jan 13

gooterz said :

watto23 said :

gooterz said :

Lucky Transact are upgrading things

NBN is literally a pipe dream

Depends, there are plenty of suburbs where Transact doesn’t exist, because they decided it was not as good a profit as others……

Transact didn’t cherrypick on purpose, they expected a bigger take up and ran out of cash. Similar to NBN same concept 15 years apart

Yeah I knew that, my issue is probably more personal, in the fact they kept sending door knockers to get me to sign up for Transact mobile and thus be first in line to get broadband when its available, even though it was pretty obvious they were not rolling out cables anymore.

This is where political ideology plays a part, where the libs say private industry can do this, but labor syas government is best to roll out infrastructure. IMO, the only way to do it properly is for some kind of government driven project. It took years for Telstra to upgrade the Greenway exchange to ADSL2 and as yet no one else will touch it because of the NBN (actually they didn’t before hand either). why invest in something that will become redundant.

#30
Quince6:04 pm, 29 Jan 13

Hi misskitty,

I read your post on Whirlpool earlier today, your situation sounds ridiculous and incredibly frustrating. Anyway, I just got home to find 2 workers out the front with a wad of green cables pulled up out of the NBN pit (I’m on Whitmore at The Fair too). They’ve got some other rolled up green cables nearby in boxes so I can only assume they’re replacing one or more of them. Hopefully this is to address your issue!

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