Byron residents face a year of ‘zero internet’

Not happy, NBN. Sunrise residents make their point. Photo Eve Jeffery

Not happy, NBN. Sunrise residents make their point. Photo Eve Jeffery

Eve Jeffery

Residents of the Byron suburb of Sunrise face more than a year without internet access when their neighbourhood becomes a dead spot after north coast internet service provider Linknet closes on January 31.

The federal government has left Linknet without compensation after NBN Co took over local services. Unfortunately the NBN service does not cover all local residential and business customers.

Spokesperson for the Sunrise Residents Group Robyn Wilcox said the loss of internet service to the area has terrible implications for children still at school, for home businesses and activities such as banking online.

‘It has come as a shock to many families and business people who study or work from home in Sunrise and other parts of Byron Shire, as well as businesses in the Byron Arts & Industry Estate, that they will have zero internet access in just over four weeks’ time’, she said.

Forced out

Ms Wilcox said that for most of Sunrise there has never been ADSL. ‘We don’t have line-of-sight for fixed wireless to any of the towers on St Helena or elsewhere’, she said.

‘We can’t get 4G, cable or satellite. Our saviour was Linknet. Now they have been forced out.

‘We have watched this happen over the last couple of years, but we still hoped this day would not dawn.’

Ms Wilcox says the resident group has contacted local federal MP Justine Elliot, who has written to the minister for communications. ‘We have contacted the telecommunications ombudsman.

‘We have contacted Telstra, Optus, TPG, Vodafone, World Without Wires, Advatel, Virtel and NBN Co. Everyone would like to help, but no-one can.

‘We have contacted the minister for communications a number of times with no response, and the prime minister’s office.’

‘The good news, says the NBN Co, is that we will have fibre to the node perhaps by April 2017.’

Ms Wilcox says that new Elements resort has solved the problem with their own pole. ‘They have had a pole put up by Advatel of Lismore, which points at the St Helena tower’, she said.

‘They [Elements] are advertising super-fast wi-fi. I asked Advatel whether they would allow Sunrise residents to use their wi-fi as a community goodwill gesture. They said they would ask, but we haven’t heard a thing since.’

Robyn said World Without Wires Broadband may be able to come to the rescue. ‘Wires Broadband has told me that if they can get Byron Shire Council’s approval, which they have requested in the past without success, they can mount their equipment on any power pole so long as it is high enough to have line-of-sight to one of their towers.

‘They said if I could find people who were willing to have relay towers on their property to let them know. So far three people have said they don’t care if they have an Eiffel Tower on their property, they would be willing in order to get internet.’

Ms Wilcox said this is heartening news, so long as Council agrees. ‘I had an email from Jane Laverty from Council late Christmas Eve asking for a list of affected customers as “troops were rallying”. I hope this is a solution, as we are out of options otherwise – up to six years without internet for businesses and families is inconceivable, despite the minister for communications believing otherwise.’

The Sunrise Residents’ Group is compiling a list of those affected by Linknet’s closure, as well as of those households that rely on USB stick modems (dongles) or use their mobile phone as a hotspot because there is no alternative.

‘Anyone interested in being kept informed of any possible solutions is requested to send an email (while they still can and while I can still receive emails) including name, street address and contact number, and whether they are a Linknet customer or use other means to connect to the internet to [email protected],’ Ms Wilcox concluded.


6 responses to “Byron residents face a year of ‘zero internet’”

  1. Tony Parker says:

    I wrote to Justine Elliott on this matter in August 2011. Over two years several letters ensued. Also I had a letter in the Echo December 2012 on the same subject. Nothing has changed.

  2. Darren Pearson says:

    I think we all know that getting the NBN “by April 2017” is never going to happen 🙂

    On the flip side “World Without Wires Broadband” provides excellent fast (and cheap!) internet service to ewingsdale people i know, so i don’t see why they would not cover Sunrise.

    For reference, i know a property that was on a “World Without Wires” business plan and signed up to the NBN fixed wireless and they are now getting SLOWER download speeds.

  3. Susie says:

    Looking for a place to live WITHOUT WIFI due to the health related problems it causes. This would be the perfect place if it were to stay radiation free.
    Fixed wireless is the worst option health-wise for the community and for our wildlife.
    The NBN Co should be fast tracking FTTN or reinstate previous company until FTTN is available.

  4. bigtreeman says:

    Mesh networks. There are many ways to implement mesh, commercial or even good, cheap DIY solutions.
    If Elements Resort is willing and capable of providing an internet connection for a suburb, great.
    If Elements Resort can provide wifi, great.
    If Advatel is paid for data usage, Elements would become a “neighbourhood provider”

    Once an NBN node has been provided I can’t see any problem with continuing a mesh technology for the “last mile” connectivity gap. It is a great community bonding project and could be a future solution for NBN until they wake up and provide fibre to the premises.
    This is exactly what I saw the NBN sould be. NBN provides backbone and local communities are connected last mile and served locally by councils, local companies or local community organisations.

  5. JAB_au says:

    Talk about inaccurate, OPTUS has 4G coverage and so does Telstra in Sunrise. Optus has the tower that sticks out like a sore thumb from the industrial area, Telstra tower is more hidden behind Warren Simmons Pannel shop.

    There are 13 ADSL ports avalible in Sunrise on BYBY-DA025 which is the Rim for that area.

  6. Rebecca says:

    Has anything been resolved as yet?

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