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Watson units still not linked to NBN

Kathleen McGarry has been told her Watson unit will be connected to the NBN next week. She says she'll believe it when she sees it.

Kathleen McGarry has been told her Watson unit will be connected to the NBN next week. She says she'll believe it when she sees it. Photo: Melissa Adams

A 12-unit apartment block in Watson, overlooked when neighbouring buildings in the greenfields development The Fair were hooked up to the national broadband network last year, could be connected as early as next Tuesday.

Resident Kathleen McGarry received the good news at 3.55pm on Tuesday of this week, just 24 hours after she had been told by NBN Co that ''at this stage the estimated first order date for a connection through your selected service provider is [the] end of May 2013''.

The second email, from Jon Grahame, NBN Co's general manager for new developments, northern region, was sent within hours of a request by Fairfax for an explanation as to why hooking up the last of three blocks of units in The Fair was taking so long.

''My apologies on the delay in getting back to you. We are now in the final throws [sic] of Quality Assurance and are looking forward to bringing Building 138 into service by Tuesday next week,'' he said in an email to Ms McGarry.

The earlier email, which had no personal attribution, stated: ''The Fair, Watson, will be one of the first new developments in the ACT to connect with the national broadband network. There has unfortunately been a delay in rolling out the NBN in your estate. We regret any inconvenience caused to you by this delay, we are working to resolve this issue as quickly as possible.''

Ms McGarry, who said nobody had been able to tell her why two of the unit blocks at The Fair had been connected to the NBN while the one she lived in was not, told Fairfax that because it was a greenfields development there was no existing copper landline. It had been assumed by the time residents moved in the NBN would be available for internet and phone services. ''But I've been living here for eight months and we've still not been connected to the NBN,'' she said. ''Residents were informed the estate was NBN-ready but that's not true.''

NBN Co's response had been to offer mobile phones at landline rates under its universal service obligation.

''You may be eligible for a universal obligation phone service from the universal service provider, Telstra,'' residents of Block 138 have been told. ''For more information visit the Australian Communications and Media Authority's website.''

Ms McGarry said this was no help. ''Given the capped [mobile] plans most of us are on are cheaper than landline phone calls, this doesn't offer a benefit,'' she said. ''We want the NBN for internet access and there is no universal service obligation for that.''

Mobile phone reception for some service providers was poor and wireless broadband could be sporadic.

''I had to break my contract with Vodaphone and reconnect with Virgin on the Optus network to get reliable phone reception,'' she said.

All Watson residents were supposed to have NBN access ahead of Gungahlin, which went live earlier this month. Ms McGarry said she would be delighted if the connection proceeded as promised next Tuesday. ''But I'll believe it when I see it,'' she said.

An NBN Co spokeswoman said when Block 138 was connected the residents would have a lot of options to choose from. ''The first stage of Watson was connected at the end of 2011 and there are now 17 different providers,'' she said. ''In Gungahlin there are currently nine providers, but it is likely that number will increase over time.''

15 comments

  • I'd comment, but I don't have internet access.

    Commenter
    Geraint
    Location
    Canberra
    Date and time
    February 21, 2013, 7:33AM
    • Transact HA! No connection today at all and all Transact people would say "it can't be fixed for FIVE days"!

      Transact is on the ACCC list for investigations today.

      Commenter
      Iranian Space Monkey
      Date and time
      February 21, 2013, 8:47AM
      • That's ok I still only have dial up. I'm told ADSL2 "MAY" be coming soon. Whoopee!

        Commenter
        Big W
        Location
        Holder
        Date and time
        February 21, 2013, 9:08AM
        • pffft. First world problems.

          Commenter
          thermyan
          Date and time
          February 21, 2013, 9:11AM
          • I suppose it is a first world problem - but can you imagine going 8+ months without a phone or internet connection at home?

            Commenter
            theatregirl
            Date and time
            February 21, 2013, 10:29AM
          • Luckily for us, we do live in the first world and therefore have first world problems. In fact, it'd be pretty difficult to have 3rd world problems here in Canberra I hope.

            Commenter
            scoundrel
            Date and time
            February 21, 2013, 11:07AM
        • I want my NBN now! I wish to be less outraged!

          Commenter
          Outraged of Palmerston
          Date and time
          February 21, 2013, 9:16AM
          • I agree! And I would be less outraged if Transact got its act together.

            Commenter
            Outraged Iranian Space Monkey
            Date and time
            February 21, 2013, 9:27AM
        • NBN is a waste of taxpayers money.

          Commenter
          Mickyb
          Location
          Canberra
          Date and time
          February 21, 2013, 9:26AM
          • It's not just that NBN is unavailable - it's that we cannot connect to a land line or ADSL or any other kind of internet (bar crappy mobile wifi) at all. You have to admit that it's pretty poor for a new apartment, in 2013, 10km out from the centre of Australia's capital city, to be without phone or internet for 8+ months.

            Commenter
            In Watson
            Date and time
            February 21, 2013, 9:28AM

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