A dental practice in Mullumbimby has now been without a phone for over six weeks following the roll out of the NBN which has failed to facilitate their connection to the NBN network.
It has been six weeks of confusion, conflicting information and technical gobbledygook for dentist Steve McGaughran at Little Lane Dental in Mullumbimby as he’s been shunted from pillar to post between NBN and his telephone provider provider iinet – and he still doesn’t have a phone for his business.
‘I just want a quick resolution. I need a phone to run my business and it’s been six weeks now without one,’ said Steve in frustration.
On October 15 Little Lane Dental’s phone cut off while NBN were working on the node several meters from their building. When Steve asked the workers ‘what have you done to our phone?’ they said they hadn’t touched it, however, when Telstra came to fix the line four days later they told Steve that the NBN staff had damaged the line into the building.
Two day phone
They had a phone line for almost two working days before it once again went dead at 9.45am on Tuesday October 23. They were told by their provider iinet that their number had been ported (transferred) so they could be connected to the NBN network.
‘The thing was that our appointment to be connected to the NBN network wasn’t until November 1,’ said Steve.
‘We asked if they could at least put a message on the line to let customers know that our number was being ported but they said they couldn’t because the number no longer existed.
‘I thought well, we can manage a week and a half without a phone for the greater good.’
But when he received his modem in the post on October 29 Steve realised there was a problem, it was addressed to 64 Stuart Street, and they are at 2/64 McGoughans Lane.
‘I called iinet and asked if they could check the service address,’ said Steve.
‘We’ve been here 35 years at the same address and we were told that McGoughans Lane was not on the NBN. We then spent four days trying to get back on the copper network but were told by iinet that it was “impossible”.’
It was at this point Steve brought in the ombudsman, after which a member of iinet’s senior management looked into the issue. ‘They assured us that yes, you have NBN to your address,’ Steve recounts.
However, according to Steve, ‘the NBN technician sent out on November 6 said that because our address wasn’t listed as an address on this node (that is a few meters from our door) we can’t have a connection as all the access points are allocated and it is full. This was the case, apparently, even though there are addresses allocated on the node that aren’t being used, because those businesses aren’t connecting to NBN.
‘The workers then told us that NBN now have to put in another new cable if we are to be able to connect to NBN and that is a really big job.’
Since then they have been left dangling with no access to either the copper network or NBN. Adding to his frustration, Steve has been called on to act as the middle man as NBN and iinet use Steve as a means of sending each other messages.
‘NBN called and said our provider needs to switch us back onto the copper network but then iinet have said that for technical reasons they can’t “just switch us back on”.
‘What surprised me was that the ombudsman has not got the power to order anyone to do anything.
Just wanting a phone
‘All I want to know is when I’m going to get my phone connected? NBN and iinet are trying to talk to each other through me – they need to talk to each other. I don’t understand all the technical issues and can’t properly relay the information.
‘I don’t need to know the details and technical issues – I just want to be reconnected.’
While Steve has said the stress of trying to sort it out has been the biggest issue he said the community have been amazing.
‘We have used The Echo and social media to try and let people know that we are still here and the community have been really wonderful and supportive.’
NBN not responding
In an attempt to get the business a phone line again iinet have now cancelled Little Lane Dental’s application for a connection to NBN and have applied to Telstra to reconnect the business to the copper network.
‘Iinet told me that NBN has stopped responding to their emails on this issue,’ said Steve.
‘They said if Telstra can’t switch us back onto the copper network then Telstra will have to lay another line to get us reconnected. But there is no time frame for this to take place.
‘I was told that because NBN have a monopoly on the roll-out it is either their way or the highway,’ said Steve.
NBN respond to Echonetdaily
NBN responded to questions from Echonetdaily stating that the property was was not going to be serviced by fibre to node technology but was going to be serviced by the fibre to curb network.
‘The intended serviceability date for all properties at 64 McGoughans Lane is 27 January 2019,’ said a spokesperson for NBN, noting that ‘The dates provided on the rollout map are indicative only’.
Update: December 6, 2.40pm
Justine Elliot’s office has contacted Little Lane Dental to let them know that she is requesting ministerial intervention today on their behalf.