WOULD-BE internet users in Baldivis are struggling to get connected to a viable service with a lack of telecommunication infrastructure thought to be to blame.
Councillor Matt Whitfield said he had recently fielded complaints from angry residents in his ward who were told there were no ports available in the area, preventing them from accessing ADSL internet.
“It started as a small trickle, but over the past week, week-and-a-half there’s been 15 or 16 people who’ve contacted me with their address willing for me to pass it on but that’s only the tip of the iceberg,” he said.
“People are annoyed with the mobile coverage itself anyway, you can’t get a good signal on your phone and you can’t get internet access; it’s 2016 so people are annoyed and we are going to feel the anger more going forward.”
One of those people is Marten Rogers, who has become irked with the situation and being forced to use more expensive alternatives.
“I’ve been trying with Telstra for four, five, six months at least but it’s getting a bit frustrating… to be honest I haven’t got any definite answers,” he said.
“You have to get more downloads for your phone so it’s costing more that way. My wife, she uses her phone a lot more often than I do for the internet so we’re constantly getting more data added on.
“Now the kids are using laptops at school, we obviously need more data again; it’s just the service isn’t here.”
Currently based in the established suburb of Settlers Hills, Mr Rogers said he could not believe telecommunication companies overlooked Baldivis.
“It’s the fastest growing (suburb) and has been for some time now and still can’t get something as basic as internet and WiFi,” he said.
“You can try and go with someone else… At the end of the day, whether you go with Optus or iinet, it’s still Telstra who have got to put the infrastructure in and they’re not doing it.”
With the NBN not scheduled to arrive in most of the area until 2018, Cr Whitfield said he was hoping to see the issues addressed as soon as possible.
“What I’m seeking to do here is to remind Telstra, remind the Federal Government, remind the NBN that there are people you can’t leave behind right now, to future proof, to put firm guidelines into place,” he said.
“If we’re going to get the NBN in 2018, I’ve seen those timelines stretch and stretch and stretch; can people wait a year-and-a-half without what I would class now as a necessary infrastructure? Probably not.
“You’ve still got a duty of care to your residents and customers that you’ve physically got now; you cannot deprive people of that service.
Cr Whitfield said the regulations on the issue were outdated.
“I’ve got an issue with the regulations stipulating that you must only provide a landline. There is a very small portion of people who use a landline, people expect the internet,” he said.
The Baldivis ward representative said he was also worried the issue might deter future residents.
“If you’re looking at Ellenbrook or you’re looking at Baldivis, both quite similar, median price quite similar but you see you can get internet access there but not here; it’s going to deter people from coming here,” he said.
Telstra area general manager Boyd Brown said there are more than 1500 vacant ADSL ports across Baldivis that customers can connect to but availability would depend on the customer’s location and are predominately accessible through the roadside cabinets.
“There are some residents that are directly served by the Baldivis exchange that may experience difficulty connecting to new ADSL services as the infrastructure is currently fully allocated,” he said.
“The availability of ADSL ports on our network changes over time with both demand and with upgrades to the network.”