Satellite seen as poor NBN substitute, council, farmers

CHALLENGES: Brett Hosking, Victorian Farmers Federation vice president, said the experience with NBN delivered by the Sky Muster satellite had been disappointing. Mobile broadband had the edge over the satellite.
CHALLENGES: Brett Hosking, Victorian Farmers Federation vice president, said the experience with NBN delivered by the Sky Muster satellite had been disappointing. Mobile broadband had the edge over the satellite.

A WOOMELANG grain grower says he would rather keep dial-up internet than change to newer technology available to his property. 

Chris Kelly’s comments come as Wimmera growers share their concerns about missing out on the NBNs fixed wireless services. 

Complaints have been raised that many districts would only receive the Sky Muster NBN service.

Mr Kelly said he hoped he would be able to keep the current dial-up internet, as he did not want to go to Sky Muster.

“It’s better than what we would have, if we were on Sky Muster,” Mr Kelly said

“You don’t get too many people saying how good it is.” 

He said neighbours one kilometre away could not get dial-up internet. 

“They say, ‘you are so lucky’,” he said.

Victorian Farmers Federation vice-president Brett Hosking says when the NBN was first announced, primary producers thought it was “a great thing”.

“For once we thought were going to get the same level of service as our city counterparts,” Mr Hosking said. 

He said Sky Muster provided a slower speed than mobile phone broadband through the telecommunications companies.

“NBN issues has added to the discrimination encountered in country Victoria. If you can get mobile broadband – and speed is important to you – it doesn’t drop out and delivers data at a faster speed.

“That said, Sky Muster is cheaper, although it is definitely an inferior service, to other forms of the NBN.”

Member for Mallee Andrew Broad has vowed he will continue to advocate for a fixed wireless tower for Kaniva.

“NBNco has told me it’s on the list, but I, too, like the many locals in Kaniva, am still waiting. I believe the people of Kaniva, and the surrounding regions, are entitled to the fast and reliable connection that a fixed wireless tower will deliver,” he said. 

NBN FRUSTRATION: Kaniva crop grower Jonathan Dyer said he was frustrated that it appeared the town was missing out on fixed wireless NBN, although the main Melbourne to Adelaide cable ran just past the town. An NBN spokeswoman said it had been determined Sky Muster was the best service for Kaniva.

NBN FRUSTRATION: Kaniva crop grower Jonathan Dyer said he was frustrated that it appeared the town was missing out on fixed wireless NBN, although the main Melbourne to Adelaide cable ran just past the town. An NBN spokeswoman said it had been determined Sky Muster was the best service for Kaniva.

Local grower Jonathan Dyer said Kaniva was promised a fixed wireless tower in 2011 with original rollout maps were released. 

“Someone even went to the trouble of figuring out where it should go because if you look at the OzTowers website it’s there,” he said. 

He said while the main NBN backbone ran past the town, “you can’t connect to it”.

“Frustrating, unfair and nonsensical are a few words that come to mind when thinking about this situation,” he said. 

“Nobody can tell me why Kybybolite or Aspley, Rainbow or Dimboola can have fixed wireless towers but Kaniva or Sea Lake can’t. There’s no population or cost of connection justifications.”

He said he was concerned the Sky Muster satellite would be overloaded, which could be alleviated by connecting the NBN through a fixed wireless service in Kaniva. That would leave more capacity on Sky Muster for those on properties in the surrounding area.

West Wimmera Shire chief executive David Leahy said fixed wireless, as had been provided to other communities in western Victoria and South Australia, would be ideal. 

“We have provided with a number of excuses as to why it wouldn’t happen,” Mr Leahy said. 

He said maximum download speeds could only be achieved between 1am and 7am, which was “completely inappropriate”. 

“Data in agriculture is a burgeoning industry, but for that it’s not so much the download speed you need, as the upload speed,” Mr Leahy said.

He said any argument that Kaniva could not get a fixed wireless service “didn’t win me, because they have done it for Apsley”.

Krystal Merrett, of Telopea Downs, runs a spray contracting and sheep business and said her family’s enterprise were disadvantaged by their limited internet access. 

“We had a massive struggle to get it up and going,” Ms Merrett said. 

“We had to have most of the infrastructure repaired about three times, over 18 months – it just didn’t work, there were issues with hardware or software.

“We are farmers and we need it for the weather forecasts. My husband is a spray contractor, so we need it for forecasts of wind and rain.”

She agreed it appeared download speeds were being compromised. 

“Speeds are not what they promised. It’s really frustrating,” she said. 

NBN media advisor Kasey Ellison said the company had to provide a minimum wholesale download speed, of 25 megabits per second, to every premise in Australia as soon as possible, through a “multi-technology model.

“There are several factors that determine which technology is chosen for each area,” Ms Ellison said. 

These included geographical location, existing infrastructure, cost and time to build. 

“To serve premises in, and around, Kaniva the Sky Muster satellite had been determined as the best technology,” she said. 

She said UK research firm Ovum has named the Sky Muster satellite service “world-leading” because of its data allowance and wholesale download speed and upload speed. 

“NBN has one of the world’s leading satellite services and we are always looking to utilise and get the maximum results out of all our technologies,” she said. 

In October, last year, NBN increased the maximum monthly wholesale data limits and increase the average speed of wholesale download plans by up to 50 per cent on the Sky Muster service. 

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