CQ mum spending thousands in painful wait for NBN
THE little township of Cawarral is the latest flashpoint in the ongoing political skirmishes regarding the roll-out of NBN.
Human resources worker and Cawarral resident, Hannah Edward, 26, who has lived in the rural area since 2011, is finding the lack of cheap economical internet is crippling her financially and stifling her work productivity.
"Where we live, we understand there may be some connection issues and the biggest issue we have at the moment is the cost to connect to hotspot on mobile phones," Ms Edward said.
"We're finding we're spending $200-300 per month for less than 20GB.
"That's basically just social media and emails and maybe a Skype call if I can fit one in."
The mother of two children, aged two-and-a-half years and 16 weeks, said it really affected her ability to return to work after maternity leave on a flexible arrangement with her employer.
"The ability to work from home is not available to me because of the cost of hotspot and the lack of connectivity really negatively affects me and I can't see us maintaining the expense, it's not a feasible exercise we want to continue," she said.
"There are small businesses out here that operate, there's a school, I imagine that lack of connectivity affects people's ability to study and run small businesses.
"I reached out to some community members and some said they would have to wait until 2020 to get a connection, it's a bit of a joke."
Ms Edward said she was trying to connect with a satellite service provider and was advised they wouldn't be eligible because in August 2017, NBN would be connected in Cawarral.
WATCH | Fiona Nash makes July NBN announcement at Cawarral
"I checked in July and the NBN pushed the date back to 2019 so I contacted the satellite provider once more to go ahead with the satellite connection and they replied they wouldn't be able to offer us a service or test the network until the NBN Co connected the fixed wireless," she said.
"Basically we have to sit and wait for two years.
"I think a two-year delay warrants an explanation."
She said it was a "tease" seeing the NBN tower from her house and frustratingly not being able to access it.
Shadow minister for regions Stephen Jones, Senator Murray Watt and Keppel MP Brittany Lauga visited the Cawarral tower site where three months ago, Ms Landry took Federal Minister Fiona Nash to talk about a "tremendous win" with the launch of three new NBN towers connecting Central Queensland to the NBN.
Shadow minister for regions Stephen Jones said the further away you were from capital cities, the more essential it was to have access to broadband services.
"Because every government service, education, health care, even dealing with your bank now, the norm is you do it online," Mr Jones said.
"We know that data needs are increasing exponentially.
"In 2015/2016, the data usage across the country increased by 50%, it's going to go up again by 50% by the end of this year, so the need is great."
He said it was a "cruel hoax" that Ms Landry and Ms Nash were promising the people in this region were going to get the NBN when we now know it won't be until 2019.
"If you want to know the cost of that is, just listen to Hannah's story; they are paying $300 per month because they have no other communication service available to them.
"The fact that it has been kicked out another two years, the cost to this one family alone is $6000.
"This is an area where we should be encouraging people to be running home-based businesses, to be starting new businesses, creating jobs and we are spending money in ways that we don't need to be which is a real tax on the local household."
Minister for Regional Communications Fiona Nash has responded to the story, saying Labor's Murray Watt and Stephen Jones were misleading local media and local residents and needed to be called out on it.
"We held a press conference in front of a tower at Cawarral at the request of time-constrained local media, which wanted a tower in the background and did not have time to drive a lot further to an active tower," Ms Nash said.
"It was never suggested the Cawarral fixed wireless tower was about to go live.
"The towers discussed were Alligator Creek Central, Marlborough and Finch Hatton, not Cawarral."
An NBN spokesperson responded saying the NBN had never announced the tower in Cawarral would be ready for service in August 2017.
"The wireless network is currently under design and construction and is due to go live in mid-2019," they said.
"Our goal is to ensure that all Australians, including those in the Cawarral area have access to fast and reliable broadband as quickly and efficiently as possible."
The spokesperson said NBN was using a range of technologies to make fast broadband available to all Australians by 2020 and there were several factors that determine which technology is chosen for each area.
"These include geographical location, existing infrastructure, cost and time to build," the spokesperson said.
"Understandably, people in areas that appear later in the NBN network roll-out plan may be disappointed.
"While we would like to connect everyone at the same time, we are constrained by both economic and physical resource limitations and as a result, we must build the network in an efficient, systematic manner."
The spokesperson said everyone in Australia would be able to benefit from the NBN network once the network was complete and they were working hard to do this as fast as possible.
Capricornia MP Michelle Landry was also approached for comment regarding this story.