By Victoria Stone-Meadows
Residents of the Belmond on Clyde estate have been told they will not be compensated for their time living in a new estate with no form of telecommunications.
Residents had a chance to directly confront representatives from the telecommunication companies that had failed to supply them with phone and internet connections for over four months.
Representatives from Telstra and NBN Co faced up to a group of about 30 angry Belmond residents in the office of Holt MP Anthony Byrne on the night of Tuesday, 14 March.
Irate residents, who have been living for months without any fixed or mobile telecommunications services, shared their frustrations with the companies they felt had let them down.
When residents first started to move into the estate in November last year, they were told NBN Co would have their phone and internet switched on by 1 December 2016.
However, that date has been continually pushed back with residents now being told they can expect to have fixed line telecommunications in the estate by 7 May 2017.
Telstra has said the most likely timeframe for a new mobile tower being constructed to cover the mobile reception deadspot will be the end of 2017.
Both NBN Co and Telstra said there was no likelihood of residents receiving any compensation for their time with no fixed or mobile services.
Residents shared their stories of being unable to conduct business or keep in touch with family and friends because of the lack of service throughout the estate during the meeting.
Senior Government Relations Adviser for NBN Co Ben Bullmer said NBN Co was committed to getting the infrastructure connecting Belmond estate to the internet completed.
“Our commitment at this stage to deliver it by 7 May,” he said.
“The nature of the roll-out means that the government has asked us to connect every home and business using a multi-technology mix by 2020 and that’s what we are doing.”
“This is not an unusual situation but it is unfortunate and we are working hard to connect them as soon as possible.”
Telstra’s Area General Manager for Eastern Victoria Loretta Willaton said they knew about the poor mobile reception in Clyde and had been investigating where to put a new tower for years.
“We have been on consultation since 2014 to identify a place for a tower,” she said.
“It takes time; the process to engage and source the right location, discussions with landowners then proceeding to development with council, it all takes time and a reasonable timeframe for Clyde would be the end of the year.”
City of Casey Councillor Geoff Ablett also attended the meeting and said he was disappointed the communications infrastructure needed in the area was not in place.
“The lesson we can learn from this is with the towers – they need to apply earlier,” he said.
“With Clyde growing at 100 per cent, we should be talking with companies earlier.”
“Hopefully we will create an ongoing communication between council and communication companies to get infrastructure ready and let them know what’s required so they can tick all the boxes in advance so we can get things going.”
However, residents were not satisfied with the result of the meeting and feel they have been neglected by the big telecommunication companies.
Jenny, a resident of Belmond on Clyde, described the meeting as “terrible.”
“The meeting was frustrating for the residents because we still weren’t getting any answers,” she said.
“My heart sank when I heard a tower wouldn’t be built until the end of the year. I don’t think Telstra and NBN from a corporate perspective understand the severity of impact this is having on residents.
“They are still hiding behind a corporate wall and I don’t see any evidence of expediting or putting their money where their mouth is to try and compensate residents or make a genuine apology for the inconvenience and significant safety issues that they have caused.”