Holiday makers cause cyber traffic jam
Cyber chaos... Natasha Driscoll, President of the Batemans Bay Chamber of Commerce and business owner Darren Knight in Orient Street, Batemans Bay. Photo: Graham Tidy
The increased take-up of smartphone and mobile devices, coupled with an influx of tourists, has crippled communications on the south coast.
Holidaymakers have been waiting until late at night or early morning to send and receive data.
A Telstra spokesman said the popularity of smartphones and tablets, and higher demand than expected during this holiday period, created the problem.
He would not comment on Eurobodalla Shire Council's observation that services such as water and sewerage were designed for peak holiday periods, not the troughs, and telcos should be prepared too.
Eurobodalla general manager Paul Anderson said the south coast was trying to prepare for a digital economy for the roll-out of the national broadband network, but it was proving extremely difficult.
''If you are not with Telstra, service is non-existent. And that's another issue, because people visiting from Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne have multiple choices,'' he said.
''The council has been working with Telstra to improve reception, there are some new towers, but there's lots more spots where they need to build the infrastructure.
''Otherwise, from near the top of the Clyde Mountain down to here there is no mobile service.
''It gets worse at this time of the year, the system jams up with so many trying to use it.''
The council was trying to equip field staff with mobile devices to relay information more efficiently, but inconsistent connections led to errors and unreliability. These holidays, visitors have found making an internet connection after 8am impossible, and must wait until about 9.30pm to send and receive information.
Batemans Bay Chamber of Commerce president Natasha Driscoll, who also works at a bank branch, said savvy internet users and more online options including banking had added to the crush.
Telcos, including her phone service, could not cope.
''They need to crank it up,'' Ms Driscoll said.
The chamber was not bemoaning additional demand on roads and shops. ''It is crazy busy, it is fantastic. I love it. You've just got to be patient,'' she said.
Chamber spokesman Darren Knight said his ADSL line, although close to an exchange, provided only a third of its speed.
He said waiting was a part of life on the coast at this time of the year. He allowed an extra minute to get to work because of the heavy traffic, which from Canberra has risen noticeably. Telcos had told the chamber that mountainous terrain between the coast and Canberra did not help reception.
Mr Knight said European visitors accustomed to connection hot-spots commented on the lack of a reliable connection. The problem hit home when motorists continued using the Kings Highway after a landslip on the Clyde Mountain because no one could phone ahead.
Mr Knight said after recent cool summers, traders were welcoming the influx of Canberrans.
''I'm all for it. I love seeing it busy. I think everyone has got past thinking, 'Oh here are the people from over the hill'.
''It has been a long off-season. Last year was terribly cold, I think I went to the beach twice. Businesses that are doing well are in retail and mainly because of the personalities and how they run their shops.''
Home renovation businesses and tradies were also busy. Builders were finding it difficult though, and some were looking for work in Melbourne or Canberra.