High-tech

Residents frustrated by phone, internet outages

She said her Telstra ADSL internet, which had previously coped with the demands of her husband running his business from home and their four children’s schooling needs, was sluggish. Her mobile phone reception had “plummeted” around the same time.

Last month, she offered to help people who were isolating due to COVID-19 and couldn’t order groceries online. A member of the local fire brigade, she stopped receiving incident alerts via apps and back-up SMS messages. She had to travel into Kempsey to use free Wi-Fi to complete her studies.

“We just feel defeated. It feels like we’ve been ignored for so long,” she said.

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Kempsey Shire Council mayor Leo Hauville said many “irate” Kundabung residents had complained to the council about ongoing phone and internet connection problems since January.

“Some people haven’t been able to run their businesses from home, others are concerned because they have health issues and can’t call an ambulance, people who are studying are having to go into Kempsey,” he said.

“In country areas, communication is essential. It’s not just manifestation. I have heard of problems at South West Rocks and Crescent Head. It’s a problem across Australia. But it’s a federal issue. We can only advocate.”

Telstra regional manager Michael Marom said in a statement that ”back to back issues” in Kundabung in recent weeks had affected some landline services in the area and impacted some customers’ connections.

“We know that this is frustrating, and we’ve worked hard to get services stable and back up and running. We’re continuing to monitor the network in the area closely.”

Nationals MP Pat Conaghan said residents of Kundabung have endured years of unreliable phone and internet services.Credit:Lindsey Moller

Mr Marom said while “ADSL remains available to customers in areas where the NBN wasn’t available … we do recommend customers consider taking up newer technology if it’s available in their area”.

Cowper Nationals MP Pat Conaghan said he was aware there had been “ongoing issues in the area of ​​Kundabung for the last few years”. He will join representatives from Telstra, Optus and NBNCo at Tuesday’s meeting, which he said was triggered by the “number of simultaneous complaints and the length of time for the outages”.

He said the problems were unacceptable.

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“All Australians should be able to access voice and internet services in order to connect with family and friends and to run businesses.

“Unfortunately, with our current technologies and our existing terrain in the regions, this has been problematic.

“The needs and expectations of all Australians have evolved faster than the infrastructure in the regions has allowed and we are actively seeking to work with the Telcos to address this.”

Ms Robinson said people moving to regional areas such as Kundabung expected some services to take a bit longer than in major cities but that “basic utilities are not too much to expect”.

“We’re not on a remote island expecting services that have never existed before,” she said. “We’re 10 minutes from Kempsey.

“I don’t think it’s too much to ask that it’s maintained at the same level, or improved. We shouldn’t be going backwards.”

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