If you are a regular reader of this iTandCoffee blog/newsletter, you will know that we finally had our NBN connection completed at the start of August - nearly 6 months after it was first supposed to be connected.
I must say that we have remained very impressed with the speed that we get from our new NBN HFC connection - download speeds of around 100Mbps and upload speeds of up to 40Mbps. A huge improvement on our ADSL line.
Did we speak too soon?
But this week saw the iTandCoffee shop without internet for 1½ days.
On the first day, visiting the Telstra Service Status webpage showed that there was an 'outage' in our area.
Thank goodness for my Personal Hotspot!
As frustrating as that is, there is not much anyone can do in that situation - other than regularly checking to see when the service is back online, and using your mobile phone's 'personal hotspot' temporarily to provide internet connectivity.
(Here's a past article on this: Lend your mobile internet to your Wi-Fi only device - using your Personal Hotspot)
Even the backup 'dongle' failed!
In saying this, as a business customer, we had a mobile backup device attached to our Telstra modem - one that was supposed to 'cut in' whenever the NBN service was not working.
Unfortunately, this mobile device failed to work. It turned out that this was because the technician who visited in August had installed the wrong SIM card in that mobile device.
Diagnosing and fixing this problem involved over 2 hours on the phone with Telstra on the first day of our outage.
While this mobile backup 'dongle' could provide internet to a couple of attached devices in our building, it could not handle the number of Wi-Fi devices we needed to connect so was not really workable. So we resorted to hotspotting.
Day 2 Woes
On the next day, however, the Telstra Service Status showed there was no outage in our area. This meant that, supposedly, we should have internet again.
Given that we had a class that morning, we very pleased to see this!
Unfortunately, we very occasionally had internet - very, very slow - but it kept cutting in and out. It was not usable.
We figured the problem must be at our end, so went through all the requisite steps of restarting our various devices and then checking our connection again. Still no good.
Yet another call to Telstra
A call to Telstra just before the class (after a 15 minute wait on hold) confirmed there was no Telstra outage. Further pressing about our issue revealed that there was, however, an NBN upgrade underway for our area - and that this would most like be the cause of our problems.
When I asked the Telstra representative why the information about the NBN upgrade (and its impact) was not showing on the Telstra Service Status web page, he said that this was because it was nothing to do with Telstra! Telstra did not have have an outage, and was not doing an upgrade. Go figure.
On that merry-go-round again
When I asked how long the outage was likely to be (due to the upgrade by NBN), the Telstra rep told me I would need to contact NBN.
I did go to the NBN website to look for a number or a web page. On that website it said that, for any faults and outages, I had to contact my internet provider.
Around and around I was being sent again, in yet another frustrating example of how NBN and Telstra 'pass the buck' to each other.
More time on the phone to Telstra
I called back Telstra (after a class with no internet), and waited another 15 minutes to be connected. The next representative confirmed that there was no way of contacting NBN about such an upgrade, but that NBN did provide that information to Telstra (and other retailers).
Again I pressed him about why this information was not on the Telstra website, and got the same response as previously - not a Telstra upgrade or fault!
He told me that he could see that this NBN upgrade would be in progress until September 13th (and we were having problems on September 7th!)
So we just had to wait it out.
Great news (not) for a business that is completely reliant on an internet connection.
Finally! It's back!
We finally got back a workable internet connection at 2pm on the second day, and have not been impacted since.
I just wonder at the volume of calls to the Telstra call centre that could have been avoided by simply showing on the website the information that they had available to them.
And my 4-5 hours over two days spent on the issue and on the phone to Telstra could have, once again, been used for more productive purposes!
Well, it has been a long, painful road - one that is not quite ended yet.
But it looks like we are almost there.
We now have NBN installed at the iTandCoffee shop. It is a cable connection through Telstra, and the speeds that we now get are sooooo much better than before.
It took 7 months from order to installation. It was supposed to be completed by the start of March this year.
From the first appointment when no-one from NBN turned up, to the second when the technician turned up well after the arranged time and couldn't complete the job, through the subsequent 3 months of postponed appointments, each month without explanation.
Finally, we had technicians turn up in the second-last week of June.
These technicians seemed to have no awareness of the problem that had prevented the install in March, so came unprepared and had to come back a second, then third day!
We had thought that we were finally getting our installation earlier in June, when an NBN team was digging up the concrete outside the shop and installed a box on the wall. Alas, it was not ours - it was our neighbour's.
So the concrete had to be dug up a few weeks later for our own connection.
When I asked the technician why the two addresses were not done in one go (as one would have thought would be the most sensible, cost effective approach), I was told that it was must have been because I didn't have my order in early enough!
Visible smoke came out ears at these words! The poor technicians who must face frustrated customers like me.
What concerns me (and I know also concerns others I speak to) is the waste of money from the repeated mis-communication and poor co-oridination.
I hear stories like my own from so many other clients and subscribers.
Do you have your own NBN story? And, if you have NBN, is it better or worse that your old internet connection?
I am happy to report that the speed of the iTandCoffee Shop's NBN internet connection is MUCH better than it was - downloads are about 7-8 time faster than our ADSL connection, and uploads are about 30-40 times faster.
Fingers crossed that this continues.
I was reading an article just this morning, about the serious problems being encountered by many residents who live nearby to iTandCoffee in Glen Iris. In fact, only last night I received a call from a family who have been without internet for two weeks.
Here is the article I saw in the SMH:
At iTandCoffee, we too have suffered a severe case of NBN frustration.
Having placed the order with Telstra in early January to switch to NBN (which resulted in multiple frustrating follow up calls to clarify incorrect information given by the person who processed the order), we then heard nothing for 6 weeks. As I'm sure you will understand if you are one of the huge number of people who has ever dealt with Telstra issues, I just couldn't find the energy to get on the phone to Telstra to chase up what was happening with the order.
Then, in late Feb, we received a text saying the install would happen the next day, along with a contradicting email stating that the install would occur in two days.
Having contacted a Telstra 'case manager' to clarify the date (and complain about the lack of warning), and then arranging for someone to be present for the 4-hour window of 8am-12pm on day, no-one from NBN turned up on the day or contacted us to explain the 'no show'.
Our case manager from Telstra then booked the next available appointment with NBN, which was on March 30 - again between 8am-12pm. This meant waiting another month for action!
Once again, we arranged for someone to be present for the 8am-12pm window. It was after 11:30 on March 30 when we finally received a call saying that the technician wouldn't be there until about 2pm!
Then, when he finally did arrive, we were informed that he couldn't do anything because a conduit from the 'pit' outside into the premises was not large enough, and that Telstra would need to fix this before NBN could do their 'bit'!
Now, we supposedly have a 'remediation appointment' scheduled for May 19 - over 4 months after the original order was placed.
What is not clear is when Telstra will fix the 'conduit size' issue. Yet more time needs to be wasted on calls to Telstra to resolve just what is happening, something that I could not face this past week.
Now, after reading this morning's article, I think I will be cancelling my order and sticking with my current ADSL internet connection for as long as possible.
Do you have a NBN tale of woe? Feel free to leave a comment below if you have.
The last few weeks have seen lots of articles in the press about two terms that are a 'glorious mystery' to most readers of this blog. I have also had very regular questions about these things from clients.
They are NBN - National Broadband Network and VPN - Virtual Private Network.
Let's look at each in turn, and at some articles that have appeared recently about these services.
NBN - do we all need to change?
Given that she currently has a Telstra cable broadband connection (as do we), she wondered if she needed to do anything - given that she had heard that the Telstra cable broadband network will be retained as part of the NBN.
While this is correct, the Telstra cable broadband network has been sold to NBN. This means that all Telstra cable customers must change to NBN when it becomes available in their area. The Optus Cable network is being decommissioned completely - so Optus cable clients must also change.
The same applies for anyone that has an ADSL connection to the internet - you MUST switch to the NBN once you receive notification that the NBN is available in your area. If you don't you will risk being disconnected.
Even if you don't have internet to your home, you are still impacted by the NBN if you have a phone - landline phone connections are also moving to the NBN.
You can stick with your current Telco, but it is probably a good time to consider who will give you the best price and service.
I know that, when it comes time for this household to switch, I will be taking a very close look at who provides the best deal and won't necessarily be sticking with Telstra as my provider. In this family we need unlimited downloads and fast speed - and it will be a case of who can provide these for the lowest cost.
And I will doing a 'self-install' of any equipment that needs to be installed in my home - to save myself the $240 installation fee that Telstra would charge to send someone to do it for me.
(iTandCoffee can assist clients with this install - our fee is nowhere near that of Telstra! Call 1300 885 420 if you want to discuss this option with us.)
For those of you who want to read a bit more, here are some recent articles and information about the NBN and the two major Telcos.
Articles about/from Telstra
If you need advice on what to do, iTandCoffee can help. Call 1300 885 420 to make an appointment. We are located in Glen Iris, Melbourne, but can arrange to come to you if needed*.
VPN - what is it, and why might you want it?
The issue of how to stay safe when travelling - and when using Public Wi-Fi networks - comes up regularly at iTandCoffee. (We cover this topic in the Travel with your iPad, iPhone and other technology class, which will next run on Friday 24th March at 10am. Places are still available if you would like to join us - find out more here ›)
We are regularly seeing and hearing in the press that using public Wi-Fi networks is, in some cases, how people get 'hacked' - how they have their private information stolen, their online account compromised, and/or their money stolen.
Lately there has been an advertisement playing regularly on the radio about a new product from Norton, one that is supposed to keep you safe when using public networks.
The solution offered is to use a VPN whenever you use a public Wi-Fi network.
But what is a VPN - or Virtual Private Network?
A VPN provides a layer of protection for any communications you have across the internet.
When a VPN is installed and active on a device, it ensures that any data sent across the internet from that device (or received to that device) is 'encrypted' - scrambled, so that no-one can read this data (unless they are supposed to!). It is like creating a secure 'tunnel' through which your data can travel - a tunnel that others cannot break into.
Here are some articles that describe the concept of a VPN, and give some options for those thinking about getting a VPN, or an alternative product that can help protect their online life while 'on the go'.
If you would like to find out more about VPNs and how to set one up, let us know using the below form. If we get enough interest we will run a class - otherwise, we will get in contact with you about arranging one-on-one assistance (should you decide you need it).
"I want to know more about VPNs"
* In-home appointments are available to homes within 20km of iTandCoffee. Distance/travel surcharge applies to these appointments, as shown on our Prices page.
Call 1300 885 420
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