In the Highlands and across the nation, negative reports about the NBN have outweighed the positive.
Many NBN customers in the Highlands have expressed anger at slow speeds that are a fraction of the maximum promised and often slower than their previous cable connection.
A call-out for feedback about the NBN posted on the Southern Highland News Facebook page garnered multiple tales of poor connectivity.
Kaz Williams in Bundanoon, who has been connected to the NBN for several months, said “to say that the service is a disappointment is a massive understatement”.
“In recent weeks however it's got even worse. From mid-afternoon on into the evening internet speeds are so bad that I can't have more than one web page open at a time,” they said.
Some people are paying up to four times as much as they did for a cable connection, with little to no improvement in internet speed.
But for many people, installing the NBN has been their biggest challenge.
Berrima resident Peter Moore said he has been completely cut off while the installation is stalled. “I haven't had a phone line or internet for over two weeks now,” he said.
“Telstra claims to have booked an NBN technician a week ago. Meanwhile if you ring my home number the guy 10 doors down the street answers. I'm not making this up.”
Mr Moore has now contacted the Ombudsman for further help.
The Southern Highlands Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SHCCI) and the Illawarra Business Chamber (IBC) have received multiple reports of substandard support and maintenance across the region that is damaging business operations.
“We receive calls and approaches every week complaining about poor internet and poor phone services,” the IBC’s executive director Chris Lamont said.
A survey conducted by the IBC revealed that 60 per cent of businesses in the Illawarra and South Coast region indicated the process of switching to the NBN was “somewhat to very disruptive”.
It also found “service delays, disruptions, lost customers and necessary equipment upgrades for the NBN are costing businesses across NSW an average of $9000 [each].”
In response to these complaints, the NBN said that the geography of some homes made it difficult to establish a connection.
“Some premises are harder to connect to the NBN network from an engineering perspective and may be located further from existing NBN network assets; this is typically when we would deploy a micronode. They service premises that are beyond the normal distances from a standard Fibre to the Node (FTTN) cabinet,” a spokeswoman said.
As for general connectivity issues, the NBN said this was mostly the fault of the service providers.
“Your experience, including the speeds actually achieved over the NBN network, is determined by your service provider and the plan you choose and depends on the technology over which services are delivered to your premises and some factors outside our control like your equipment quality, software, broadband plans, signal reception and how the end user’s service provider designs its network,” they said.