NBN woes worry Bendigo tech experts

Former telecommunications technician Fred Goodwin says a series of bad decisions has left Australia with third rate internet and mobile networks. Picture: NONI HYETT
Former telecommunications technician Fred Goodwin says a series of bad decisions has left Australia with third rate internet and mobile networks. Picture: NONI HYETT

WITH more than 90 years experience in telecommunications between them, two Bendigo men understand the ins and outs of getting you connected.

But they have been left infuriated at the rollout of the National Broadband Network and mobile coverage in Bendigo and central Victoria in recent years, and now they have had enough.

Fred Goodwin worked in telecommunications for 46 years before retiring in 2009, as the groundwork was being complete for the NBN.

Geoff Dalrymple spent 40 years with Telstra.

They each face telecommunications problems they say would have been easily fixed in the past.

Mr Goodwin’s house cannot get connected to the NBN, despite being located in the middle of residential Strathdale. It has no break point for a connection.

Mr Goodwin has been back and forth between NBN Co and Telstra more than he cares to imagine, and believes the level of service was unacceptable.

“They are on hold with each other for three hours. Back in the day, if we waited more than 90 seconds for a response then questions would be asked,” he said.

“It was a big mistake splitting the two organisations up. They don’t talk to each other about these issues, and just send the customer back and forth.”

Mr Goodwin believes Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s decision to use the existing copper wires rather than installing fibre optic cables to every house will cost Australia down the track.

He was present at a meeting in 1996 when it was admitted that the copper network was suffering from a lack of maintenance. Mr Goodwin said it should have been a warning.

“This is the worst decision I have seen by miles,” he said.

“Copper will pick up signals from all sorts of things, and it’s open to the weather. Fibre optics don’t get interference at all.

“It may have been more expensive initially, but there would have been a lot of savings in the long run.”

Mr Dalrymple contacted the Bendigo Advertiser to raise concerns about the “appalling service” available from Telstra and other providers throughout Bendigo and central Victoria.

Australians communications minister Mitch Fifield visited Bendigo during last year’s election campaign, when he continued to spruik the plan to use the old copper wires to deliver NBN to houses from neighbourhood nodes.

He claimed the Coalition’s NBN policy was “$30 billion cheaper” than Labor’s plan for fibre to the premises, and would be completed six to eight years sooner.

As communications minister, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull promised all of Bendigo would be connected to the NBN by 2016.