Dropouts, delays and 'just not worth it': More Bendigo businesses speak of NBN issues

Eagle Foods, in Bendigo East, was virtually without internet or phone for almost three months after attempting to connect to fibre-to-the-node internet in Mayfair Park.
Eagle Foods, in Bendigo East, was virtually without internet or phone for almost three months after attempting to connect to fibre-to-the-node internet in Mayfair Park.

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MORE Bendigo businesses have spoken of their ongoing issues with the National Broadband Network rollout, but NBN Co is steadily working through the backlog of complaints.

Businesses from a number of Bendigo suburbs have reported repeated drop outs, a lack of access to fixed line internet and slower speeds than promised.

The Mayfair Park industrial estate in East Bendigo, which has one of the city’s oldest copper networks, has experienced issues in trying to get some of its businesses connected.

Eagle Foods, which provides ingredients to IGA, Schnitz, Goodman Fielder, Bidvest and other retailers, lost its phone and internet for almost three months after it received a fibre-to-the-node connection in March.

Managing director Steve Mallia said the situation cost his business thousands of dollars as they struggled to contact buyers and apply for new contracts.

“An NBN salesman came through so we decided to get connected, but there were mass dropouts almost straight away,” he said.

An NBN technician visited the site in early April but could not solve the problem. A second visit fixed the problem for 10 minutes before it dropped out again.

A level 2 Telstra technician was able to solve the problem by fixing firmware in the company’s modem – almost three months after the dropouts started.

Bendigo Foot Clinic owner Nicholas Bate was advised not to connect to the NBN after finding out the closest available node was 1.2 kilometres away.

Bendigo Foot Clinic owner Nicholas Bate was advised not to connect to the NBN after finding out the closest available node was 1.2 kilometres away.

Mr Mallia said other businesses in the Mayfair Park Estate had faced similar problems, and the customer service between Telstra and NBN had been poor.

He blamed the area’s old copper network, and said the company would consider applying for compensation due to the loss of trade.

The copper network in areas of the Bendigo CBD has also presented challenges to businesses.

The Bendigo Foot Clinic on Rowan Street was told the nearest available node was 1.2 kilometres away on Marong Road.

Business owner Nicholas Bate said they already experienced drop outs with the copper network, and he was advised by IT consultants not to take the risk with the NBN on offer in the area.

“Over the years, we’ve always had trouble with the copper here. You get a rain event and we’d just be without phones, you’d get a hissing in the line,” he said.

“Our IT professionals were saying that you’re better off sitting with what you’ve got rather than the unknown.”

Mr Bate said it was unusual that businesses close to the Bendigo CBD would have to face this kind of technological problem, and their current download speeds were a hindrance for staff and patients.

“It slows you down at the front desk when you’re trying to do an online claim. Sometimes it times out, you have to start again,” he said.

NBN Co general manager of state and corporate affairs Sam Dimarco will visit Bendigo on Tuesday to discuss the NBN rollout.