Strathbogie Shire Council

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Strathbogie Shire Mayor says NBN job is not done

Strathbogie Shire Mayor says NBN job is not done

Strathbogie Shire Mayor Cr Chris Raeburn has told the Joint Standing Committee inquiry into the National Broadband Network (NBN) that the struggle for internet speed and reliability in the region was unacceptable.

Cr Raeburn spoke to the committee at its public hearing on December 4, saying if something is not done the region will be left behind in the digital race and miss out on economic development opportunities.

"This is not an option we can accept," Cr Raeburn said.

He said slow speeds, dropouts, congestion, and no mobile signal, caused dissatisfaction and it was more frustrating when promises of performance were not delivered.

"It is not a surprise to us that our residents and business owners are frustrated at being on the receiving end of services that do not nearly meet their expectations," he said.

"With unfathomable depths of technical complexity, details of which are indecipherable and disputes that are very difficult to resolve between customer, retailer, and NBNCO acting as a wholesaler.

"Businesses should not be required to register complaints about service, call out technicians, wait, call an RSP help line, wait more, or write to their MP, to get connected and receive a good service from a $51 billion nation building project."

Cr Raeburn appealed to the committee to consult and collaborate with the Strathbogie Shire region.

"We should all accept that the NBN job is not yet done, and we do need to do something about it," Cr Raeburn said.

"Expectations have not been met. Service in some locations is better on the mobile network, but 3G and 4G is intermittent or missing in many places.

"Businesses and farms out of town are not served well by fixed wireless and the restraints of satellite services. The necessary follow up work to meet the policy objectives of a universally available NBN is urgent."

The Joint Standing Committee on the NBN was established in July 2019 to inquire into and report on the rollout of the NBN.

It is required to report to each House of Parliament annually on the rollout progress, utilisation of the network, activation rates and any other relevant matters.

In its written submission to the committee, Strathbogie Shire Council pointed to results of a survey with local businesses which found 90 per cent of businesses surveyed experienced slow speed and drop-outs, with 62 per cent of these saying the occurrence was daily.

Council's research has also found that 27 per cent of those supplied by NBNCO in the region are using a satellite connection and 39 per cent are using fixed wireless connections.

"What this means is, most people are not benefitting from fibre connections which are capable of speeds up to 40 times faster than the restricted satellite connections in our Shire," Cr Raeburn said.

"When an equitable NBN closes the digital divide, when the offer is the same everywhere, then, as Minister Fletcher has said, "Australia can capture the productivity, efficiency, and lifestyle benefits that widely available broadband can support".

"Not yet in Strathbogie, but we are looking forward to it."

Chris on NBN

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