Frustration at slow internet connections and delays to the roll out of the National Broadband Scheme is boiling over in Bendigo with homeowners in the heart of the city describing dial-up speed connections and one IT consultant likening the business climate as “third world”.
Golden Square’s Claire Allan said she was choosing to use cellular data on her mobile phone to access the internet rather than her home broadband connection – which was often so slow as to be unusable.
It is an inconvenience for the nurse and mother of two. She can’t use a streaming service to watch movies, for example. But it can be a major disadvantage for her children.
“I now have a child in high school who needs to be able to do her homework in a timely matter,” she said.
“Last year, she was required to make selections for her classes over the internet – a situation where it is 'first in, best dressed' and she could have potentially missed out.
“We had to go to the school at 6pm to use their internet.”
Further out of town, residents don’t even have the option of connecting to the internet via their phones.
Neilborough plasterer Robert Lahtz said he and others in that part of the Whipstick Ward had no choice but to use Telstra’s fixed broadband wireless service.
“We pay $100 month for 15 gigabytes… which never gets us through the month,” Mr Lahtz said.
“We live 20 minutes out of town, so we rely on the internet for business and school, for banking, paying the bills, online shopping…
“But when it slows down, it becomes totally unusable and we can’t do any of that.”
One local IT consultant said businesses were having to spend huge amounts building and maintaining IT infrastructure because they couldn’t access a high speed internet link.
Brenton Johnson said some businesses were operating with download speeds of as low as 2 megabits-per-second (Mpbs) – but that the real concern was with upload speeds.
“They’re never higher than 1Mpbs and more likely are at about 0.5Mpbs,” Mr Johnson said.
“From an IT perspective there are so many things we just can't do until our clients have decent connections.
“We hear from colleagues in Shepparton and Ballarat and they’re talking about things that are five, 10 years ahead of us,” he said.
“It’s like being in a third world country.”
Are you experiencing slow internet speeds? We want to hear from you. Contact reporter Joseph Hinchliffe via firstname.lastname@example.org to tell us your story.