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Wednesday, 18 June 2003
Page: 16933


Mr MOSSFIELD (4:14 PM) —I rise to discuss an issue I have been campaigning on for quite some time—telecommunications infrastructure in developing suburbs. Greenway is an electorate facing huge residential developments but which is lagging behind in terms of infrastructure upgrades, specifically in relation to access to broadband Internet services. There is a great community web site based in my electorate called 2768.com, referring, of course, to the postcode of Parklea, Stanhope Gardens and Glenwood. The message boards are a great tool within these communities, allowing dialogue on a range of local issues. Mark Thompson, the administrator, and those who help him maintain the site must be congratulated, because the site is an excellent source of local news and events as well as opinions from local constituents.

One of the oldest and largest threads in the forum is `Internet access in the 2768 area'. To give honourable members some idea of the frustrations that are being felt in the suburbs regarding decent access to the Internet, I will read some of the posts from various local residents. The thread started on 11 October last year with a question from Adrian:

Hello,

Just a question to see if anybody in Stanhope has ADSL to their house? I am trying to get it but apparently we are too far away from the Kellyville Exchange.

Also, dial-up seems very poor as well (may be for the same reason) usually connected between 21K up to 31K on a rare occasion.

Anyone with better luck?

To which Mark Thompson, the systems administrator, replied:

Hi Adrian,

This a sore point with me and Telstra, before we moved here back in Feb this year. I triple checked with Telstra that we could have ADSL and they said YES no problemo buddy. I need it for my business and recreation, as well as the kids ... When I moved in to Stanhope Gardens and asked Telstra to have the line installed they told us that we were on fibre and that the technology was too advanced to have ADSL installed and therefore a big NO in getting it (I was not happy Jan!!!). We are on what is called a loop and in effect not able to have the fibre line split so that ADSL can be used, that goes for all of Stanhope Gardens.

This was followed by Ian, who said:

Yep, we've had the same problem. Speed is usually 28, Primus tell us that it is due to Telstra's “pairgaining” of lines and therefore ADSL is not an option.

On 12 May this year Rajiv asked:

What is the maximum dial-up speed that we can get in Glenwood?

I can only get 31.2 and rarely 33.6.

Is this because of the Telstra infrastructure in the Glenwood area?

To which RKinder responded:

Short answer: yes. Long answer: sounds like you are on a pair gains system (along with ~ 1million other people in suburban areas in Australia). One of the limitations of pair gains is that your dial up speed is limited to approx 33.6 kBps.

Another limitation on your line is that you won't be able to get ADSL. There are plans in the pipeline for Telstra to upgrade certain pair gains systems to be able to get ADSL, but up to 60% of pair gains sufferers will still be left in the information Dark Ages.

Richard Clement put it rather succinctly in his post of November last year, when he said:

Like many of you I have been getting pretty cheesed off with trying to get a broadband connection to the Internet—dealing with Telstra is like wading through mud.

A local resident who uses the screen name `Billkek” also outlined his frustrations. He said:

Here are my experiences and frustrations dealing with Telstra.

First, it appears that due to `newness' (I've been here more than two years now, I didn't think we were that `new' any more :) of our suburb, to provide essential services, we have all been lumped with pair gains technology—a single twisted pair serves the entire street. Second, we are hanging off a `RIM' exchange—basically, a reduced functionality exchange.

I recently hassled Telstra again to find out if our exchange had been upgraded, to which they told me it had, but I am still on pair gains, so can't get ADSL. I asked whether I could get a twisted pair from the local exchange—I can for $200+, with no guarantees whatsoever that it will work with ADSL.

Telstra say that ADSL is available in the suburbs, so there is no real problem. It is true that it is available for some but, as Timbo, who posted on 5 May this year outlined, you just never know when or how: (Extension of time granted)

I have ADSL in Stanhope Gardens. I had to go through the depths of hell and in the end it happened purely by fluke. Unfortunately all the houses in our area are on a phone line system called a `loop' which basically does not allow for ADSL as ADSL travels through Telstra copper and the copper cable leaving goes to your house to a central point in the `loop' where it continues as fibre, thus, no ADSL.

I had another phone line installed for business and was informed by the Telstra technician that no more lines were available on the loop and I had to have a copper straight back to the exchange. `Woo hoo' I thought in the back of my head knowing full well this meant that I could get ADSL.

So there you have it—the depths of hell and a pure fluke—not a promising combination. Telstra needs to lift its game in response to the legitimate concerns of my local residents. I ask the minister: when is something going to be done to improve the infrastructure in the newer suburbs of my electorate so that local residents can enjoy proper access to information technology?