I recently moved to a new townhouse and after reviewing available internet plans I signed up for ADSL2, as cable broadband and NBN were not available in my area from any provider, and I thought I could live with ADSL2 until the higher performance NBN was rolled out.
However, even though I live less than 7 km from the city centre (although that can actually be a problem with older houses and older cables), performance was terrible. The best performance I achieved from numerous performance tests was 4.22Mbps. The worst, 0.13 Mbps (when it was working). I put this down to the ageing network infrastructure and no investment in upgrading it until NBN is rolled out. I won’t name the ADSL2 ISP as I think all providers would have the same issues.
Australia as a leader in technology
It does raise the question of Australia as a leader in technology. Australia is ranked 56 in the world of average internet speeds (according to the Ookla Speedtest Global Index – Feb 2018), and a recent report released by the Department of Communications on Australia’s future internet states “only 2 per cent of households are expected to demand more than 49 Mbps in bandwidth in 2026″.
Tell that to online gamers, Virtual Reality enthusiasts, artificial intelligence developers, and movie lovers. FYI, the average file size of a 4K movie is estimated to be approximately 100GB, and at 49Mbps, a 2 hour movie would take more than 4 hours to download….so 49Mbps will not even keep up with streaming a 4K movie.
Worth noting…..my maximum speed of 4.22 Mbps ranks 129th in the world averages… in between Libya and Algeria.
Cable is available!
After a couple of months, I found out I could now get cable broadband. I placed an order with Telstra and cancelled my ADSL2 subscription whilst I was on the phone to the ISP help desk (with yet another ADSL drop out problem). My previous experience with cable broadband was excellent. I had placed an order with Telstra and within a week I had a new cable laid and connection to the internet at up to 35Mbps….so I had no hesitation in cancelling ADSL2 and living without internet for 3 days.
However, this decision took me on a journey of frustration, waiting, comical dialogs, and continuously being told “24 to 48 hours”.
This is my journey……Skip to the Summary below if you get bored
All I need is Cable broadband
January 3rd: Placed my cable order. Response from Telstra was “We’ll process your request within 24-48 hours”…. and it was. I received confirmation of the order on January 4th. An appointment was booked for a cable connection for January 11th.
January 10th: I was called and my appointment was cancelled. The reason was “your address is not in the NBN database”. Why does that matter? I asked. I’m not getting NBN. “They manage all the cable connections” they responded. How long will it take to add my address? “24 to 48 hours”.
Friday Jan 12th: Called back 2 days later. What’s the status? I ask. “We need to add your address to the NBN database”. I explained this was the same response as 3 days earlier, I’m not getting NBN so why does it matter, and how long will it take. They responded, “24 to 48 hours”.
Monday Jan 15th: I called back 2 days later. It was still not done, but “it is expected to be updated by Friday”.
Monday Jan 22nd: Called back. Still not done. I requested the issue to be escalated. The help desk also gave me the phone number of NBN to call and escalate it myself.
Monday Jan 22nd: Called NBN, but it was actually an NBN group within Telstra, and it was the “commercial” group who could not help with individual issues. They put me through to someone who could help (or so they said).
Monday Jan 22nd: Spoke to the NBN group for individual premises. They couldn’t help either. They put me through to the broadband cable installation team.
Monday Jan 22nd: Spoke to the Broadband cable installation team. Helpful person but he couldn’t assist……but at least he also agreed with me. “What’s NBN got to do with your broadband cable request? It should not matter”..…he put me through to the broadband connections help desk, which was the same team that told me they needed to add my address to the NBN database.
Monday Jan 22nd: Continued holding for the connections help desk. It was late in the day. Waited for 45 minutes then hung up.
Tuesday Jan 23rd: Called the connections help desk team. They had been asked for “additional information by the NBN team”. I requested this to be escalated again. They did this, and the estimate to fix the issue was “24-48 hours”.
Thursday Jan 25th: Called again. On the phone for 56 minutes. Address has still not been added to the NBN database. They quoted “another 24-48 hours….. 72 max” (72 was new).
Monday Jan 29th: Called again. Address has been added to the NBN database. Fantastic. I can now get connected. But alas, No. “Although the address is there, the connection details are not, and they need to be added. Another 48-72 hours”.
Thursday Feb 1st: Called again. No progress. Still waiting on the NBN update. I asked to speak to a supervisor. Explained the situation. Asked again why is NBN involved as I’m getting Telstra Cable Broadband. Same explanation….. “NBN owns the physical cables”. The supervisor stated “48-72 hours and I will call you on Monday morning with an update” …..But there was no call back Monday morning.
Tuesday Feb 6th: Called again. Waited 30 minutes. No progress, “it will be 48-72 hours.” I asked to talk to a supervisor. An Escalation and Addressing feedback form (AFF) was raised by the Supervisor.
Thursday Feb 8th: Called again. I was initially told that Cable was not available at my address, which took me by surprise, so I asked to speak to a supervisor again. Same guy as Feb 6. He explained cable was available, it was NBN that was not available. There was a response on the AFF form. The supervisor asked me “Do any of your neighbors have NBN?” I said No. “is there NBN in the area?” I said No. He asked this in multiple different ways. I continued to say No and that I had been saying this for the past 5 weeks.
The order had been raised incorrectly! They now need to cancel and re-raise the order, and they will contact me to raise a new order in “48-72 hours”……. at least there was progress. I waited in hope of a call.
Monday Feb 19th: I had been away for the past week……but no calls or messages from Telstra. I called again. Waited in queue for 1 hour 15 minutes. Previous order had been cancelled so we raised a new order over the phone. Loaded as self install. New Gateway will be delivered in “24-48 hours”. Finally some progress. I asked for the delivery address to be slightly different than the connection address. My connection address for utility companies is Unit 9, X-Y Avenue, Suburbia. But the townhouses/units are not labelled on the street this way. My townhouse has it’s own street frontage and an address of simply X Avenue, Suburbia. I explained this in detail, and the gateway was sent out.
Friday Feb 23rd: Called again. The gateway has still not been sent. Apparently, my new Telstra Bigpond user-id already exists, and they needed to resolve this before sending the gateway (but no phone call), which I find hard to believe as the user-id was allocated on the previous call and included 3 random numbers in the email address. Changed the email id. Gateway now expected in “24-48 hours”.
Late Monday 26th: Gateway has still not arrived. I was about to call Telstra but checked my email first. I have been sent Australia Post tracking information. Great. It’s on it’s way.
Tuesday Feb 27th: I check the tracking information online. And in the words of Elvis, Gateway is being “returned to sender – address not known”. I call Telstra again. The address was put as Unit 9, X-Y Avenue, Suburbia…..not X Avenue, Suburbia.
They explained the address was not able to be changed. They also cannot send to a PO Box. I can therefore pick one up from a Telstra Shop. That sounds good, I say. Do I need to call them, will they have stock? “No need to call. They all have stock” they responded.
Tuesday Feb 27th: Went to a Telstra shop. Explained the situation. He checked stock. “None available”. Apparently, I had chosen a reasonably small Telstra shop and was re-directed to a larger shop.
Tuesday Feb 27th: Visited a larger Telstra shop. They said they could not give me a Gateway. They could see the issues in the order details but there were no instructions in the order for me to pick up a gateway from a Telstra shop (even though the help desk said there would be). They suggested they could “Cancel the order and re-raise”. Fine I said.
However, it was not possible as the delivery had already commenced. They then suggested they could “send as a Warranty replacement to my address”. That sounded ok. I watched them type in my address, X Avenue, Suburbia (although they got it wrong to start, so lucky I was looking over their shoulder) and I left the shop feeling comfortable that it was on its way. How long will it take I ask? “24-48 Hours” they respond.
Thursday March 1st: I have not seen the Gateway or received tracking information. So I call again. The Telstra help desk also cannot see that the shop has sent a replacement Gateway. The last reference on the order was the return of the 1st Gateway due to an incorrect address.
But they will now “send a Gateway to my PO Box” which is on my order details. I respond that “I was told this was not possible, but happy to proceed if we can do this”. I was told “delivery will be March 5th”. Phone went silent, I thought we were done (although I had simply been put on mute whilst the details entered) and I hung up.
Thursday March 1st: 5 minutes later Telstra called me back. They “cannot send to a PO Box” (didn’t I tell them that 10 minutes ago?). They can only put Unit 9, X-Y Avenue, Suburbia, or X-Y Avenue, Suburbia (no unit). I explain (again) that it will not get to me. The street is not labelled that way. And there are 10 units at X-Y Avenue, Suburbia….. how will the courier know which unit is mine?….it must be X Avenue, Suburbia. After 1.5 hours on the phone with both the connections team and order team attempting to change the address (without success), I agree to send it to X-Y Avenue, Suburbia. “It will be ok. The courier will call you” they responded. I didn’t really need to ask. It will be “24-48 hours”.
Friday March 2nd: Received tracking information from StarTrack couriers. That’s good isn’t it? Couriers do call if they have issues finding or delivering packages.
Monday March 5th: Checked tracking information. Delivery was not successful. I had not received a phone call, so I called StarTrack. They are not able to change the address in the delivery for legal reasons. The package will be held for a few days before returning it to Telstra, but they need Telstra to change the address if they are to deliver it.
Monday March 5th: Called Telstra. They said my order had been “cancelled due to the delivery error”. But the order was not really cancelled….the delivery was cancelled. We discussed options to get the gateway and they put me through to the Orders team. Same problem. The orders team could not change the delivery address.
I ask to go into a Telstra shop again rather than attempting another delivery. They agree and raise an Interaction Number with details so the Telstra shop can supply me a Gateway.
Monday March 5th: Went to the same larger Telstra Shop. Explained the situation. He reviewed the INT number. 15 minutes later I had a Cable gateway. Watching the screen, the reason he selected to give me a gateway/modem on their system was “Customer 1st” …….How ironic.
Monday March 5th: Got home. Cabled up the Cable Adapter and Smart modem. The good thing about the new Telstra smart modem is it has an embedded 4G SIM. I was up and running in less than 30 minutes. This is great. The modem will switch to backup mode (4G) if the fixed connection is lost. And it also gives me an immediate connection whilst I wait for the cable connection to be activated…..happy days!
It is worth noting that the 4G connection is capped at 6Mbps……but when you are used to 0.13 to 4.22 Mbps this is luxury. You can see the performance in the graph starts high but gets shaped back to 6Mbps.
So I now wait for the cable connection…….. but at least I have internet…..albeit shaped to 6Mbps.
My maximum internet speed has advanced to 122 in the world ….in between Syria and Pakistan.
March 14th: Cable connection still does not work (thank you for the modem with 4G backup). I call Telstra tech support. I try and activate the connection on 188.8.131.52. It times out. I also cannot ping the address. They put me through to the cable activation team who told me the “NBN team were doing work in the area” which also affects the cable connections. “Try later” they said.
March 14th: Called again later in the day. Outages continue as “NBN is doing work in the area”. So I check Telstra outages online….. and Yes. There is an outage.
What they didn’t tell me was the outage would be days, not hours. I continue to check daily and the outage continued for about a week……. I lost track really…. kind of gave up.
But then……after about a week:
Tried all the connections again. Tried to activate via 184.108.40.206….. but I still don’t have a cable connection.
Also, during this time, Telstra actually called me. “We have a modem at the courier that we need to deliver. Where can we send it to?” I explain that I picked up the modem from a Telstra shop…..but was left wondering if 3 modems will magically be delivered.
This has taken almost 3 months to get to this point. 25 phone calls, three visits to Telstra shops, and many, many hours of my time…. and I still don’t have a cable broadband connection.
But I have a 4G backup connection in the modem, which works great, albeit at 6Mbps.
This is clearly an example of process gone mad. I understand that processes are needed, without them people won’t know what to do, do the wrong thing, exploit the system……. but there has to be a better way. In this case there was not a single person who could actually help me get this resolved.
My final comment. A friend in Belgium sent me this recently:
Sigh!……..I’ll continue to run at 6Mbps whilst I wait for my cable broadband connection.
Maybe I’ll call Telstra again tomorrow.