Problems linger with Chorus ultra-fast broadband rollout

Bryna Dassler lost hot water to her home.
David Unwin/Fairfax NZ

Bryna Dassler lost hot water to her home.

Long delays and damaged water lines during ultra-fast broadband installations continue to frustrate some Palmerston North Chorus customers after a change in contractor.

The UFB installation at Jonathan Law's home in the suburb of Milson began on June 3, just after Visionstream took over from Downer as the Chorus contractors in the area following customer complaints about long delays.

The Chorus contractors had worked off and on for two weeks, digging a trench through the driveway, to lay the fibre cable, he said.

"The installation was nothing short of a nightmare.

READ MORE: Chorus changes could force contractors to cut 25 role in the lower North Island.

"In the process of cutting up the driveway they managed to slice through my water main twice."

The contractors repaired the damage both times, but afterwards Law lost water to his kitchen; he called a plumber, and got it fixed on Thursday.

The plumber told Law silt had got into the water line, clogging it, and asked if there had been any recent repairs, Law said.

He said, considering the timing, he would be making a complaint and sending the bill to the contractors.

Chorus spokesman Nathan Beaumont said the UFB rollout had made significant progress  in the region since the switch on May 30 but conceded there had been issues.

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"We're just as unhappy when this happens and will work as quickly as we can to rectify any issues we have caused."

Chorus's contractors did accidently cut the line, which was much shallower than the standard 350-millimetre depth for service lines, and had repaired it with Palmerston North City Council supervision, Beaumount said.

He said neither Chorus nor their contractors had been advised of a problem, but if they had known they would have worked with Law to get the issue sorted.

Palmerston North house inspectors NZ House Surveys experienced months of delays waiting for their installation, bridging both Downer and Visionstream's tenure, slowing the business's planned expansion into other cities.

NZ House Surveys owner Jeff Twigge said the company needed UFB as part of their expansion, so they moved to a new head office, with fibre already installed, in March.

All that was needed was a 15-metre extension to connect to the network. It took four months and six different installation appointments before that finally happened on Monday, he said.

"It's absolutely pathetic. I've spent hours at a time waiting on the phone and the delay has absolutely stuffed the launch date for my franchises."

Twigge said he had sold franchises in Upper Hutt and Taranaki, with another potential franchise in Canterbury, but they couldn't go any further until UFB was installed at the head office.

"They needed to be able to access our server, and the only way they could do that is if we have fibre."

Housing New Zealand tenant Bryna Dassler's installation happened at the tail end of Downer's run.

"I had no hot water to my house, until Housing NZ got it fixed two weeks ago."

Dassler was convinced it was connected to a pinhole leak in her water line caused, and repaired, during the install.

She was unhappy with how slow Chorus was to respond to the issue.

"They're denying liability, but that was the only breakage we've had in the line."

The plumber involved had contacted Chorus about the repair. He had determined a blockage had occurred outside the property boundary and was not a result of the repaired damage done in the UFB install, Beaumont said.

 - Stuff

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