NBN disruption prompts Tamworth business warning, advice

Lisa and Nic Hinwood. Photo: Peter Hardin 081117PHC015

Lisa and Nic Hinwood. Photo: Peter Hardin 081117PHC015

A TAMWORTH business couple have shared their “absolutely dreadful” experience connecting to the National Broadband Network, in the hope of helping others avoid the same problems.

KEO Design directors Nic and Lisa Hinwood said their business had been left with patchy internet and no landlines after the connection process began.

The issue was resolved but, they said, not before more than a week of disruptions, up to 15 calls and about five technician visits.

Their story comes after the NSW Business Chamber revealed a survey of 850 businesses showed their NBN delays and disruptions were costing them an average of more than $9000, and welcomed a plan for improvement, and a Tamworth residential customer told a similar story of confusion and frustration.

Mr Hinwood blames the system of communication between NBN Co, service providers and customers, which he says makes any issues “always everyone else’s fault”.

He said he wasn’t pointing the finger at any party in particular but at “the process”.

“The difficult part was just the co-ordination … The infrastructure provider, NBN Co, is working with the service provider, or meant to be working with the service provider. 

“Each have different information on your business and can’t share it except through you, and they see each other as a scapegoat.

“It was just a nightmare. It was always everyone else’s fault and you’re just left there with no one to contact except a 1300 number.”

He’s called for an online portal to allow the three parties to share information and stay in touch, and has suggested people engage a local service provider to handle their switch.

NBN Co, Telstra respond

NBN Co spokeswoman Lynette Keep said the retail service provider had advised it of an issue at that location on October 25.

“While initial testing found no fault on the line, an NBN technician attended on the 30th of October to confirm this and found no issues associated with our infrastructure or technology.

“The RSP [retail service provider] was advised the location had an active NBN service.”

Telstra area general manager Mike Marom said: “We continue to work with NBN Co to improve our customers’ experience with the transition process to the NBN”.

“If a customer experiences any problems with their services, we ask they contact us so we can investigate. One way they can do this is through the local Telstra Business Centre or store.”

Speed a priority

The website design and graphic design business is well-established in Tamworth, with a new branch in Newcastle.

“We’re heavily involved with rich media – being video, presentations and websites – so the need to quickly upload changes to a website or the content of a website for a client is a huge priority in our business, and it’s important to be able to do that successfully and speedily,” Mr Hinwood said.

In late October after a visit from an NBN Co technician, the business’s internet started dropping out, he said, greatly reducing productivity and billable hours.

“When it’s dropping out for 15 minutes every hour unpredictably, it becomes incredibly draining on staff to try to pick up work and try to continue with their project,” he said.

There was a stopgap solution in a wireless dongle from the local Telstra Business Centre, which Mr Hinwood stressed had not been involved in his matter except to come to the rescue.

The business then lost its half-dozen landlines, which had to be diverted to one mobile phone.

‘Just a nightmare’

“We’ve got a pretty good understanding of the connection process and we were struggling to work out where the issues were between NBN Co and the service provider,” Mr Hinwood said.

“One would come in and check and say, ‘Yes it works,’ then the other would say, ‘No, it doesn’t.

“It just can’t happen for a business: it was incredibly stressful; it could sink a business.

“You’re left trying to communicate to a technician what the other technician did; there’s time wasted when they come in and try to work out what the other one did.

“Left wasn’t talking to right.”