Worth fixating on fixed wireless fine print

NBN Co CEO Bill Morrow recently sparked considerable on-line comment (mostly scathing) by stating that, “Australians would not select super-fast broadband even if we offered it for free”.

Australians would be delighted with fast, stable, affordable internet anywhere, anytime. 

Many locals have been waiting forever just to get internet. 

Some fortunate residents have received NBN Fixed Wireless. 

If installed professionally, this service can be excellent, though not all installations are completely successful.

Of all NBN fixed wireless installations I’ve assessed in the past twelve months, two antenna installations have proved unacceptable.

The first antenna was installed at ground level on a two-storey home, the NBN signal totally blocked by an adjoining two-storey house.

Following a protracted three-month remedial process, the antenna was relocated, resulting in optimal signal.

Another misadventure involved inexperienced contractors installing an overly-short mast at the wrong end of a curved metal roof, furthest from the NBN transmitting tower. That antenna causes signal inconsistency, variable speed and instability.

Large, reflective, metal surfaces are not conducive to clean signal reception.

This case has involved the Internet Service Provider (ISP), NBN Co, Telecommunications’ Industry Ombudsman (TIO) and the Minister for Communications’ Office.

The householder was offered a second quote for another contractor to install a taller mast. The owner has declined to be penalised.

Someone quipped the owner should accept variable internet performance as he was elderly, lived alone and should not need faster internet. This expedient viewpoint could be construed to be ageist and highly discriminatory. Does it also reflect core values?

Clear lessons emerge. Communicate and act decisively with contractors. Insist on precise locations of antennae, including mast length and NBN tower direction. Where necessary, do not sign off on any job if you remain unconvinced of NBN signal quality. Poor workmanship is not always rectified, scheduled promptly or without undue cost.

Rob Slazenger



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