Dreaming of an internet speed faster than Usain Bolt
The world can only exist with a properly working internet service.
The World of Warcraft that is; and Facebook and Twitter and all the other cyber realities that require an efficient communications network.
So obviously most online gamers and Facebook fiends were salivating at the speeds promised by the Federal Government’s National Broadband Network. It was heralded as bringing Australia into the “modern age” of telecommunications with internet speeds faster than Usain Bolt driving a Ferrari.
Unfortunately, despite the recent advertising blitz touting the benefits of the NBN, the new fibre optic network remains a fairy tale for most net users.
Where the rubber really hits the communications superhighway for most Australians is the effort it takes to find a company that can actually deliver what they promise in terms of a reliable customer service.
This endeavour can prove trouble enough for someone familiar with setting up a residential internet connection. For those not accustomed to working with computers and IT networks on a regular basis, the whole experience can be an absolute nightmare.
I recently moved into a new house dead smack in the middle of Sydney. One would think the mission to take my existing internet connection to my new address would not be a complex one.
I had no idea the world of bureaucratic pain I was about to enter.
To start with, Optus took over two weeks to connect the new service. When they finally did, there was a mountain of problems that came with the new connection.
Firstly the original connection was not completed correctly at the exchange and had to be fixed. Then the new modem they sent was faulty and another unit had to be dispatched. Then there was a problem with the line that caused drop outs every ten minutes. Then they informed me I needed to install, at my own expense, a central filter device. This did nothing to solve the problem and the only way I was able to use my connection was to have the speed dropped to near the old dial-up speeds.
After a month of beating my head against the wall, I switched to Telstra.
Telstra promised me the holy grail of internet services - a cable modem. It was like a choir of angels sang as a radiant hand reached down from a cyber-Mount Olympus and pulled me out of ADSL connection hell.
The lovely lady from the call centre in India happily informed me that my new cable modem would be shipped as soon as possible and that a technician would arrive to install a new cable connection in my home.
The technician never showed up.
After a heated exchange with Telstra I was offered sincere apologies and informed a mistake had been made and a technician would be sent to my house two days later.
This forced me to rearrange my life and take time off work to wait for said technician. A technician again failed to show.
I spent my morning away from work on hold with Telstra’s Indian call centre, being passed from supervisor to supervisor to try and work out what was going on. With each new representative I had to re-explain the situation.
I could feel my blood pressure rising by the second. Had I been a heart patient, I think the stress would have brought on a severe angina attack.
As the hours ticked by I kept checking outside to make sure I was still living in the middle of one of Australia’s capital cities. Not a remote community in Far North Queensland or a small town in the Northern Territory outback.
Telstra now tells me a technician may turn up next week – possibly.
While the federal government spends billions in taxpayer dollars to deliver a magical communications system that most people won’t see for some years to come, ordinary Australians are still engaged in trench warfare with companies like Telstra who struggle provide basic customer service.
In the coming federal election, the political party that truly wants to help ordinary Australians with their basic communication needs, should start by reviewing the trade practices of our major telecommunication companies.
That’s a vote winner every time.
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