GROWING dissatisfaction with slow and intermittent Internet connection and poor cellphone coverage in Kennington has rallied residents to fight for better service.
“My frustration is that we live in a 21st century technological world that we are constantly encouraged to engage with, however discrimination and disparity remains between the priorities given to urban and rural living,” Kennington resident Louise Chan said.
Invercargill City received fibre connection in the first roll-out and, although fibre cables ran, in some cases, directly past houses in the Kennington/Rimu area, there was no connection available for residents at present and no foreseeable date for this, she said.
Ms Chan and other disgruntled residents are holding a meeting at the Kennington Public Hall next Wednesday to discuss the issue.
Ms Chan is a clinical nurse specialist in mental health studying towards her Masters degree through Massey University. This semester her course content was all online, including a 90-minute exam.
“At home, we do not have access to VDSL (very-high-bit-rate digital subscriber line) or UFB (ultra-fast broadband) and there are many challenges with the Internet cutting out. This has a huge impact when I am in the middle of my uni work and trying to meet deadlines.”
Mel Yeo is a stay-at-home mother with a new baby and, with no neighbours living nearby, she said she relied on the Internet and phone to stay connected to the outside world. However, her Internet connection dropped out regularly and when it did work it was very slow.
“A lot of communication with my family is through Messenger. I was worried being pregnant and being at home with a new baby… I felt isolated because I didn’t have reliable Internet.”
Rob Brodie works from home for the South African Theological Seminary, a distance education institution, and is solely reliant on the Internet.
His Internet connection was also slow and intermittent and his connection often dropped out during video conferencing, he said.
“I am completely dependent on a good [Internet] service [so I can do my job].”
Kennington mother-of-four Katie Herman said access to the Internet was a necessity for schooling, however their Internet connection also regularly dropped out.
“I just curse it. In this day and age, living in a fast-paced world, for it not to be fast paced and not keeping up with us, it is frustrating.”
Mrs Herman said after her home was broken into two years ago, she bought a security system but was unable to find one which was not reliant on Wifi.
Because the Internet connection was intermittent, the security system was unreliable, she said.
“I want to feel secure, but I don’t feel secure because I have been robbed.
“For people who say ‘use your [mobile phone] data’, we can’t do that. There is no Vodafone coverage and Spark was patchy,” she said.
Mrs Herman said she had asked Chorus to upgrade the ageing exchange in Kennington, but was told it would cost too much.
Chorus stakeholder communications manager Nathan Beaumont confirmed this.
“Unfortunately, due to the high costs involved in upgrading the network, we have no plans to carry out this work,” he said.
Fibre optic cabling had been laid in some areas of Kennington which was available for people to connect to, but there would be a cost involved in doing so, he said.
However, residents in the main township of Kennington could get VDSL, which was basically very fast broadband on Chorus’ copper network, he said.
“If VDSL is available to them but they don’t currently have it, they just need to phone their Internet service provider (Spark, Vodafone, Trustpower, Vocus, MyRepublic, etc) and ask to be upgraded.”
For more information, go to www.askforbetter.co.nz, he said.
The Rural Connectivity Group had been appointed by the Government to bring 4G mobile and wireless broadband coverage to rural New Zealand under the Rural Broadband Initiative Phase 2 and the Mobile Black Spot fund.
The Southland Express contacted Rural Connectivity Group to find out if it had plans to improve the Internet service in Kennington, but had not received a response at the time of print.