The scathing comments of businesses that have connected to the NBN in advance as part of trial programs could bode poorly for the future of Australia's nationwide internet infrastructure scheme.
Businesses that have already entered contracts with the National Broadband Network have complained about the poor quality of telecommunications services, describing their telephone, fax and EFTPOS connections as “shambolic.”
A total of 15 NBN trial sites have already been established in NSW, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania, where Telstra has been transitioning from its traditional copper wiring network to fibre optic connections since May.
Over 309,000 premises are currently connected to the NBN, with a total of 3.3 million homes to included in the scheme by june 2016.
Despite promises of improved connection quality due to the deployment of advanced fibre optic cables, complaints about service quality have already arisen amongst early adopters, particularly in smaller rural communities.
The town of Willunga, situated 45 kilometres south of Adelaide in south Australia, appears to be amongst the worst affected.
All of the businesses and residential premises in the town of 2700 are connected to the NBN. Instead of providing residents with superior telecommunications services, however, the NBN has instead caused havoc for local businesses.
According to Wilunga Business and Tourism Association secretary Tom Lang poor connections remained “rampant,” with certain businesses incapable of conducting trade due to inability to process payments using EFTPOS.
“People are having difficulty with their telecommunications and nobody’s clear about who’s responsible, whether it is the NBN or Telstra or your ISP,” said Lang to the Australian. “It’s shambolic…and nobody’s got a clear handle on it.”
Willunga is not the only NBN-connected community in Australia to suffer from poor telecommunication services. In Townsville connections have suffered as a result of extreme weather conditions, while in Tasmania complaints have emerged about disconnections affecting various premises, including the homes of the elderly.
Communications minister Malcolm Turnbull pasted the blame for connectivity issues in Willunga on the Labor party, stating that it exemplified “how little work the previous government did before committing to the NBN.”
A spokesperson for NBN Co said that it was up to businesses and service providers to ensure the quality of connections.
“It’s the responsibility of the retail telcos and ISPs to make sure their equipment, such as phones, work over the NBN,” he said.