MULLALEY small business owner Geraldine McKay was ready to tear out her hair when a Telstra employee advised her to use her internet in the wee hours of the morning to achieve maximum download speeds.
Early starts are nothing new for Mrs McKay, who sells home-baked goods at farmers markets with her husband Alston, but Telstra’s suggestion to conduct vital business activities while her customers and suppliers slept was too “ridiculous” to stay quiet about.
“They suggested I do my business at 2AM,” Mrs McKay said.
“If you can’t use the internet to nail an opportunity to drive your business or make a saving then you’re at a complete disadvantage.”
The McKays pay a whopping $291 a month for 14.4 gigabytes of data on a Telstra mobile broadband plan but regularly find the internet is “unusable” despite being just one kilometre away from a mobile tower. Telstra has previously explained the hills in the district interfere with transmission. The National Broadband Network is not within reach.
Australian Communications Consumer Action Network chief executive Teresa Corbin said the state of the internet in regional Australia was unfairly disadvantaging businesses like the McKay’s.
“To ask a customer use the internet at 2AM is not only a ridiculous suggestion, it’s totally out of touch with how businesses work,” Ms Corbin said.
A Telstra spokesperson has offered Mrs McKay an apology.
“We apologise to the customer as this is not an acceptable response to her enquiry. We are looking in to why the customer was given this advice so we can ensure it does not happen again,” they said.
They said Telstra has plans in place to activate 4GX in Mullaley this year which will offer high-speed internet.
“4GX will add substantially to the fixed wireless capacity in the town. Customers with 4GX capable devices will experience typical download speeds of 2Mbps – 75Mbps. The introduction of 4GX will also free up capacity for 3G only customers as those customers with 4GX capable devices will have moved onto the 4GX service.”