Telecommunications - 2508+ Disconnect


Click here to watch Sharon’s speech

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (10:38): Members may recall that I recently spoke of the internet issues being experienced by many of the constituents in the northern suburbs of the Illawarra. In particular, I reported to the House a community group called 2508+ Disconnected, which was organised by the McKenzie family of Stanwell Park and the Oliver family of Helensburgh and which runs a very active Facebook site.

Before I start, I would like to acknowledge that since my last report the inclusion of postcode area 2508 in the three-year new NBN rollout plan has been announced. The inclusion of this area is warmly welcomed by the locals and me, particularly given the ongoing issues that they are having with substandard internet services—although I would point out that they will be getting the rollout that includes copper to the house. With significant rain experienced in our area recently, the Facebook site of this campaign team has been inundated with people experiencing extensive dropouts and problems with their service because of the well-known problems that occur when water meets copper. It is a bit bemusing as to why nbn co is going to replace poor quality copper with new copper, when they could just lay fibre in that process. Anyway, at least they are now on the program.

I have assured representatives of the community that I will continue to monitor the progress of the project. However, given that the works will not commence for another two years, the residents have real concerns about addressing the serious problems they are experiencing with service provision in the meantime. They are often experiencing very poor services, with download speeds typically less than one megabit per second and upload speeds below 0.2 megabits per second, around 30 per cent of what is commonly referred to as acceptable internet speed. The services in the region are slow, they are subject to frequent dropouts and indeed they are completely unusable during periods of wet weather. In fact one member of the campaign recently reported on the Facebook site that Telstra had advised her service was in the bottom eight per cent of the country—that is, 92 per cent of services across Australia had better quality service than she was getting. This is constraining small business productivity in the area. It is making it difficult for students to get basic school and university assignments done. There are many home based business owners working in this area who find it impossible to manage and run their businesses. Indeed the local Coalcliff Surf Life Saving Club has no connection, which means that they find it very difficult to provide the community service.

The campaign will continue. I will continue to support them in their calls on Telstra to lift their game, get on board with the issues that people are facing and find solutions, because in the time to the rollout to the NBN they need their service improved.