Blackheath residents speak out about NBN

Hearing concerns: Federal member for Macquarie Susan Templeman (left) with Labor's communications spokeswoman, Michelle Rowland, at Blackheath.
Hearing concerns: Federal member for Macquarie Susan Templeman (left) with Labor's communications spokeswoman, Michelle Rowland, at Blackheath.

More than 60 residents and small business owners from Blackheath and surrounds have expressed their frustration at the internet service the NBN has delivered them.

The complaints were raised at a community forum hosted by Federal member for Macquarie Susan Templeman and Blackheath Area Neighbourhood Centre, with Labor communications spokeswoman, Michelle Rowland, last week

“Malcolm Turnbull’s second-rate NBN is causing headaches for many residents in the Blue Mountains, with the multi-technology mix creating a digital divide in the community,” Ms Rowland said.

“It is important consumers have their voices heard when they encounter issues with their NBN connection. It is not good enough that so many consumers are finding themselves unable to get their NBN issues resolved.”

The Upper Mountains has received a fibre-to-the-node service, and complaints have centred on slow speeds, drops out and poor customer service experiences.

Ms Templeman said she was really grateful to residents for making the time and effort to share their frustrations.

“A handful of people at the meeting were satisfied with the service, but the overwhelming majority of residents were not happy with their NBN experience. Some have horror stories about speed, installation and wait times, such as one man who was told the copper from the node to his house was laid in 1932.  You don’t get a 21st century telecommunications system on nearly 100 year old copper,” Ms Templeman said.

“Many residents raised concerns that I hear echoed all over the Mountains – what will happen during an emergency like a bushfire when the power goes out and our home phones which rely on Fibre-to-the-Node technology go down? And of course these issues are compounded in many parts of the Mountains by unreliable mobile reception.

“The input from everyone who attended the forum will help Labor tackle the legacy NBN issues when we win office.”

Ms Templeman and Ms Rowland also visited the Blackheath Area Neighbourhood Centre Cyber_Shed, where volunteers can help people get online and navigate their digital technology challenges, and self-employed people can access a connected workspace.

Jo Ridley, Executive Officer of Blackheath Neighbourhood Centre said she was pleased to be able to host the NBN forum.

“Blackheath Area Neighbourhood Centre has frequently been told of NBN issues by local residents. The large number of attendees to the forum is testament to the frustration felt in our local community,” Ms Ridley said.

 “One of their main concerns relates to the frequency of severe storms and bushfire in this area resulting in loss of electricity service and the fact that communication will be lost when electricity services go down.   The forum was a very useful opportunity to voice their concerns and to receive information about various useful websites and information resources.”