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Telstra Cabling Delays Reflecting Unfairly on Developers

Delays in cabling

The advent of NBN in 2011 has meant considerable changes in Telstra's processes.

Telstra is now very conscious to ensure that they do not spend money on provision of services to new developments until this is absolutely necessary.  Their concern is that if NBN announces an early roll out in the area of the estate, then Telstra will not recoup a commercial return on their investment.

So Telstra no longer installs cable into a new estate as soon as the estate is completed; instead they delay until the first resident applies to Telstra for a service. This application then triggers the creation of a project by Telstra for the cabling. Anyone who applies for a service that cannot be immediately fulfilled, due to copper not being available, is called a "held order". 

The processes involved with Telstra's installing the cable - from creating the project, to completing their design, then sending the project out to their contractors for construction - can take several months. Residents are often in their homes for three months before a new phone service is available.  Under the Universal Service Obligation that the government has imposed on Telstra, Telstra is obliged to provide a temporary (wireless) telephony service, but their call centres do not offer this - the new resident must know to request it.

False advice being given by Telstra Call Centre Operators

Developers, of course, have no control over Telstra's timing for cabling.  Most residents would understand and accept this, however the problem is that Telstra's call centre operators are actually blaming the developer for delays. They are telling residents that the cables cannot be installed because the developer has not completing their works. 

In all such instances that we have investigated, the developer has indeed completed the works and has obtained Telstra's Confirmation letter for plan sealing and their Transfer Notice for the completed pit & pipe.

When this incorrect advice is given by Telstra's call centre, new residents quite naturally call into question the developer's advice on this matter and their competency.  This damages the developer's reputation.

We have reported this problem to Telstra many times, but it seems that they cannot control their own call centre operators.

And another problem: No guaranteed ADSL

In order to provide ADSL to new developments, Telstra might need to augment the existing infrastructure at their local exchange.

But again, Telstra is often reluctant to spend money on ADSL now, for fear of being left with stranded assets when NBN's brownfield fibre rollout occurs.As a result, entire new estates are now without cabled internet connections. Residents who want broadband access must turn to wireless.

Telstra does not have the ability to advise developers, at the commencement of a project or any time after that, whether their development will be provided with ADSL. They can only provide advice about the availability of broadband service when a new resident contacts their retail service provider to lodge an application.

When a resident has purchased a block of land, built their new home, then been told that they cannot be provided with fixed internet connection until some indefinite time in the future, when NBN fibre is rolled out in the area - that is not a particularly good outcome. It also can reflect negatively on the developer. Land purchasers cannot understand how a developer would not have the information about the lack of ADSL availability when the land was developed, or spent the money to ensure its availability.

Telstra is aware of this issue and has been working on possible solutions, but with no success to date. 

We think that the least Telstra could do would be to ensure that their call centre operators are giving out the correct information and not laying the blame for their own issues at the feet of the developer.