Steven Horton and his wife Laurel have been running their gift shop and an art gallery in the NSW Southern Highlands for around thirty years. The Bay Tree Gallery and The Brown Shutter, sit on the main street in the Historic tourist town of Berrima though much of their business is done online.
“We have a website and sell our goods through there and most of our advertising is done through social media, Facebook and Instagram,” said Mr Horton.
When the NBN came to the region Mr Horton was excited by the opportunity, but now just over 12 months since it was installed into their shops and home it’s cost them time, money and has fallen well short of what they were promised.
“From the moment we requested that our sites be transferred to the NBN with Telstra Business we have had many problems of which some are still present today. We have so many drop outs that we have to use the 4G wifi system to operate our EFTPOS facility, due to the amount of transactions that fail when using the NBN,” said Mr Horton.
“We pay more for our internet service now and it’s slightly better than what we had but it’s not consistent and we very rarely get the speeds we were promised.”
Mr Horton and his wife are one of many small business owners burnt by their NBN experience and are now backing the NSW Business Chamber’s call for the introduction of an NBN Service Guarantee.
Such a guarantee would allow for compensation for poor service standards, forced quality checks on installation works, requirements to maintain service continuity, dispute resolution procedures and a compliance regime underpinned by enforcement provisions including civil penalties.
“If we can get this thing up, I think it’ll be fantastic because people just want honesty. If the telcos say they can provide 100 megabites per second then they have to make sure they deliver,” said Mr Horton.
In late 2017, the NSW Business Chamber conducted a state wide survey of members. It found delays and disruptions in the rollout of the NBN were costing NSW businesses on average, more than $9,000.
“The introduction of a National Broadband Service Guarantee would protect businesses and ensure service providers are held to account for this essential service,” said NSW Business Chamber Chief Executive Stephen Cartwright.
The NSW Business Chamber has submitted its proposal for the guarantee with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission which is currently undertaking an inquiry into the NBN whole service standards.