Farmers join push for better rural NBN
Conargo’s Armytage family has joined a push to demand more reliable National Broadband Network connections for rural and remote Australia.
It comes as the family’s new connection gradually becomes less reliable as time goes on.
The Armytages were among the first in Australia to be connected to the NBN’s Sky Muster service earlier this year. They now say they regret the decision. Carla Armytage said they were connected in March and did experience faster speeds . . . for the first three months only.
It is now slower than their former Telstra Next G internet service, and Mrs Armytage said it is the family’s farming business and their employees who are paying the price of the unreliable connection.
They use the online farm management program ‘AgData’ for accounting and payroll purposes, and Mrs Armytage says the poor internet service means they have been late in paying some suppliers and employees.
‘‘It was brilliant for the first few months, but now I’m dealing with constant drop outs,’’ Mrs Armytage said.
‘‘I’ve got a payroll to do and I need reliable internet. Sometimes I can wait for up to two hours just to login.
‘‘I have kids and a life. I set aside a day to do all the business work and then it doesn’t even work.
‘‘It’s just crazy that if I lived 20km closer to the town (Deniliquin), I would have unlimited and more reliable data.’’
Mrs Armytage says she also fears her children’s future education needs will be impacted by the poor service.
The family was encouraged to switch to the NBN because they thought they would receive ‘‘the more reliable, faster connection the service provider promoted’’.
Another attractive point was the cheaper price, but Mrs Armytage said those savings have been lost due to the unreliability.
In the last few months, she has had to resort to her previous internet provider as well, which she said has had a significant financial impact.
Mrs Armytage has now joined a community campaign to get answers, and a more reliable internet service for all rural and remote communities — the Better Internet for Rural, Regional and Remote Australia (BIRRR) campaign.
Coincidentally, her sister Kristy Sparrow is a volunteer for the group the after experiencing a similar ‘‘data drought’’ in Alpha, Queensland.
She said the main aims of the group are to connect people to the right providers and offer advice on the best plans and providers for individuals.
They also intend to ‘‘close the digital divide between regional and township internet access’’.
‘‘Most people who talk to us are unhappy with Sky Muster; they all seem to be experiencing similar problems,’’ Mrs Sparrow said.
‘‘There’s a need for advice. It’s a jungle out there when it comes to choosing a provider.
‘‘It comes down to the lack of data and unreliability.
‘‘The speed is there, which is what they’ll sell you on, but that benefit can’t be accessed with the unreliable connection.
‘‘With the service becoming progressively more unreliable and users becoming more frustrated each day, it’s clear that something needs to be done.’’
Mrs Sparrow said one of the major projects being investigated by the BIRRR is to establish local independent advisory services in rural and remote communities.