NBN connection failure and no phones hits firm financially

A BALLARAT agricultural equipment company remains without a landline and is unable to connect to National Broadband Network, despite businesses only metres away already connected to the high speed broadband system.

Out of touch: Advantage Feeders managering director Gerard Roney and general manager Paul Pritchett are frustrated after being left with no landline or connection to the NBN. PICTURE: JUSTIN WHITELOCK

Out of touch: Advantage Feeders managering director Gerard Roney and general manager Paul Pritchett are frustrated after being left with no landline or connection to the NBN. PICTURE: JUSTIN WHITELOCK

Howitt Street’s Advantage Feeders general manager, Paul Pritchett, said the company’s inability to connect to the NBN was bringing the business “to its knees”.

Mr Pritchett estimated the predicament was costing the business hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost income.

“It is not allowing us to function on a day-to-day basis,” Mr Pritchett said. 

“Our customer services levels are diminishing. We’ve lost customers as a result of this and product development opportunities have been lost.

“We’re unable to install our new software and at times issues with our website has meant customers aren’t able to access it, so orders have been lost.”

The company is located in a small tin shed and staff use their personal mobile phones to connect to WiFi to make businesses calls.

Nearby businesses along Howitt and surrounding streets are all connected to the high-speed broadband.

Mr Pritchett said nine of his staff members were located remotely, including three in other states and six overseas but infrequent phone and internet connectivity meant communication with them was limited and unreliable.

Mr Pritchett said a drawcard for the business moving from Melbourne to Ballarat in February was the business benefit of the NBN rollout.

But since then NBN Co workers had attempted to install the network four times without success.

“Each time they have cited infrastructure issues and given no resolution or date when it looks like these issues will be fixed,” he said. 

Mr Pritchett said he had taken his plight to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman and state and federal members of parliament but to no avail.

“When I need to conduct an important meeting through Skype with our remote co-workers, I will work from home,” Mr Pritchett said. “We’ve held plenty of failed meetings where connectivity has been cut off which leaves everybody feeling extremely frustrated.”

He also requested the original copper line be reinstated. 

“As fibre has been installed in our street, we can no longer access the copper infrastructure due to government NBN regulation,” Mr Pritchett said. 

“It is incredibly frustrating because it is certainly installed and physically accessible and, even if we could just use that temporarily, it would assist us immensely.”

Mr Pritchett said if the matter was not resolved in the coming months he would consider relocating the business to Bendigo. 

NBN Co spokesman Trent Williams said NBN Co was investigating the connection issues and investigating ways to connect the business to the network. 

Mr Williams said complex buildings often required a bespoke solution to install the network.

melissa.cunningham@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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