NBN FRUSTRATION: Kaniva crop grower Jonathan Dyer said he was frustrated that it appeared the town was missing out on fixed wireless NBN, although the main Melbourne to Adelaide cable ran just past the town. An NBN spokeswoman said it had been determined Sky Muster was the best service for Kaniva.

Wimmera NBN access doubts raised

Grain growers and the West Wimmera shire council have questioned why Kaniva was missing out on fixed wireless NBN, when the network backbone ran within two kilometres of the town.

Complaints have been raised due to concerns the cropping district would only receive the Sky Muster NBN service.

“Kaniva was promised a fixed wireless tower way back in 2011 when the original rollout maps were released,” local grower Jonathan Dyer said.  “Someone even went to the trouble of figuring out where it should go because if you look at the OzTowers website it’s there.”

He said while the main NBN backbone ran past the town, “you can’t connect to it. Frustrating, unfair and nonsensical are a few words that come to mind when thinking about this situation,” he said. 

“Nobody can tell me why Kybybolite in SA or Aspley, Rainbow or Dimboola in Victoria can have fixed wireless towers but Kaniva or Sea Lake can’t. There’s no population or cost of connection justifications.”

He said he was concerned the Sky Muster satellite would be overloaded, which could be alleviated by connecting the NBN through a fixed wireless service in Kaniva. That would leave more capacity on Sky Muster for those on properties in the surrounding area.

West Wimmera Shire chief executive David Leahy said fixed wireless, as had been provided to other communities in western Victoria and South Australia, would be ideal. “We have provided with a number of excuses as to why it wouldn’t happen,” Mr Leahy said. 

He said maximum download speeds could only be achieved between 1am and 7am, which was completely inappropriate. “Data in agriculture is a burgeoning industry, but for that it’s not so much the download speed you need, as the upload speed,” Mr Leahy said.

He said any argument that Kaniva could not get a fixed wireless service “didn’t win me, because they have done it for Apsley. We believe a town the size of Kaniva, with all the economic benefits it provides to Victoria, should have access to fixed wireless NBN.”

Chris Kelly, Woomelang grain grower, said he hoped he would be able to keep the current dial up internet, as he did not want to go to Sky Muster.

“It’s better than what we would have, if we were on Sky Muster,” Mr Kelly said

“You don’t get too many people saying how good it is.” He said neighbours one kilometre away could not get dial up internet. “They say, ‘you are so lucky,” he said.

Krystal Merrett, Telopea Downs, ran a spray contracting and sheep business from their home, and said her family’s enterprise were disadvantaged by their limited internet access. 

“We had a massive struggle to get it up and going,” Ms Merrett said. 

“We had to have most of the infrastructure repaired about three times, over 18 months – it just didn’t work, there were issues with hardware or software.

“We are farmers, we need it for the weather forecasts – my husband is a spray contractor, so we need it for forecasts of wind and rain.”

She agreed it appeared download speeds were being compromised. “Speeds are not what they promised, it’s really frustrating.”

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