Raglan broadband users see red

BRUCE HOLLOWAY
Last updated 15:02 21/12/2010

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Some Raglan broadband internet users are annoyed at having been left without service for up to five days following Telecom's efforts to upgrade the Raglan telephone exchange.

Raglan Community Board chairman Rodger Gallagher described the situation as "a complete botch-up" and "totally unsatisfactory".

But a Telecom spokesman said while there had been "some issues in Raglan, the problems were not widespread".

Telecom has been upgrading equipment at the Raglan telephone exchange to offer faster services as part of its nationwide rollout of fast broadband to 84 per cent of the population.

But it encountered "service issues" and problems with "modem compatibility" last week and has since advised it will be investing in new software which will be installed early next year.

Mr Gallagher was one of nearly a dozen people left without a working broadband connection last week.

"The organisation that I chair, Raglan Community Arts Council, has been without service for five days at its Arts Centre in Stewart St," he wrote in a complaint to Telecom.

"Today I have been told that a technician will make an external check of the line.

"Whatever for? Stupid ... You need to do better. Apparently this same fiasco has been going on in other Waikato communities such as Matamata over recent months."

Telecom offered complimentary new modems to customers that have complained the most, but Mr Gallagher said it was still a costly exercise for a non-profit group such as his, where staff had been unable to communicate by email and the wages bill would rise in clearing backlogs.

As a former engineer who specialised in data communication and an ex senior manager at Telecom, he was unimpressed.

"I know how all this stuff works, so please don't send me a stupid reply from a PR person."

When he duly received a reply from Telecom community relations manager Emma Blackmore, saying such upgrades were "a good news story for New Zealand towns like Raglan" it only added to his frustration.

Mr Gallagher said it demonstrated Telecom incompetence in both marketing and technical fields.

"How can businesses being without service for a week be a good news story? Get real."

He cited a technical internet forum, Geekzone, where comments indicated this problem occurred at other places across the country when an "upgrade" is done by Telecom Wholesale.

"Although Telecom maintain this is a small problem, in Raglan everybody talks to everybody else and the scale of the problem has emerged. In this town a lot of old broadband equipment that worked on Sunday didn't work on Monday."

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Telecom spokesman Ian Bonnar was apologetic.

"We are aware of about 10 or so problems, but that has to be seen in the context of over a 1000 upgrades.

"This is part of a national programme and it is the first time we have had any significant issues with it.

"We are looking into what we can do better. We have already made a few improvements to processes and will improve communications around it as well."

Mr Bonnar pointed out one of the problems was customers having very old modems, whereas the upgrade was compatible with ASDL2+ modems.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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