NBN rollout leaves businesses without landlines

DELAYS in connecting to the NBN across Ballarat have sparked fears of a backlog and traders say it is costing them business.

Solicitor Jon Irwin has been waiting to have his phone and fax lines connected since March.

Solicitor Jon Irwin has been waiting to have his phone and fax lines connected since March.

Numerous businesses in Doveton Street North and Lydiard Street are still without connected landlines or fax machines. 

 Irwin & Irwin Law partner  and solicitor Jon Irwin moved his firm to Doveton Street four months ago. 

On March 20, Mr Irwin was allocated a new landline and fax number as part of the NBN rollout. 

He said he then invested hundreds of dollars into business cards and signage advertising the new numbers.

To date, his landline and fax remain disconnected.

“It’s been an absolute nightmare,” he said. “People have been calling the number displayed on the window of our firm and business card and are being told it is disconnected.”

Mr Irwin estimated he had lost between $4000 and $6000 each month as a result of the saga. 

“We’re effectively uncontactable by phone,” Mr Irwin said. “We can’t start a website because we don’t have a fax or landline number.”

Mr Irwin was told by a Telstra representative this week that the number originally used at the site will be reinstalled on Tuesday with a copper line rather than high speed fibre-optic cables being used in the NBN rollout. 

“(Telstra) said because they can’t give us an exact timeline for when the NBN will be installed we will need to use the previous number ... once the NBN is eventually installed we will be able to have

that same number roll over with the new connection,” he said. 

He said he has still not been told when the NBN will be installed and is considering seeking compensation. 

Hairdresser Lisa Ristrom-Gallimore opened the La Bella Donna hair salon in Lydiard Street in April. 

Her landline remains disconnected with calls this week diverted to her mobile.

“I was calling Telstra and NBN Co for weeks until something was done,” she said. “It has been extremely stressful.”

Telstra Country Wide general manager Bill Mundy said Telstra is working with NBN Co to resolve Mr Irwin’s disconnected phoneline.

“We apologise to Mr Irwin, it’s clearly taken too long to get his service up and running,” he said.

Mr Mundy said Telstra will continue to offer services including call diversion until Mr Irwin is connected. 

NBN Co spokesman Trent Williams said some people in Ballarat were experiencing longer than anticipated installation waiting times and NBN Co was working to resolve it.

“As a result, some residents and business owners may have had an existing appointment that needed to be postponed at short notice,” he said.

Ballarat City Council spokeswoman Kate Bucknall said the council was unaware of the delay and urged residents to talk to Telstra or NBN Co if they were experiencing difficulties. 

melissa.cunningham@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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