Kiama is perhaps best known for its ocean views and a blowhole that spouts water up to 25m in the air. But these days, the coastal area is also becoming known for being one of five first release sites for the National Broadband Network (NBN).
The Kiama area was the second of the first five release sites to be switched on to the network in May 2011, with around 2400 premises passed by NBN fibre, according to NBN Co.
There are around 5800 people living in the Kiama Downs and Minnamurra area, with some 60 per cent of premises in the areas now signed up for a connection to the network.
Some people have been so keen to get the NBN that they have made the sea change to the area partly because of the network.
Michael McMahon is a solicitor who now works from home. He was previously living in Sydney's beachside suburb of Bronte and recently moved to Kiama. He has been on the NBN for just over two weeks.
While he lauds the benefits of the NBN, he did experience some issues getting connected.
After purchasing a property in Kiama Downs overlooking the golf course, McMahon says he had some renovations carried out on the house. This meant connecting the home to the NBN wasn’t urgent.
McMahon organised for the NBN to be connected to his new home, and chose Telstra as his RSP (the NBN equivalent of an ISP).
He says Telstra kept postponing activation of the connection and when the telco did finally connect the house, there were problems. He says Telstra’s response to the issue was “slow”, with an external computer specialist eventually fixing the problem.
“So that didn’t impress us all that much, but it’s now running quite well. The guy from Computer Troubleshooters in Berry came in and made sure it was working well,” he said.
McMahon mainly uses the NBN to access a legal system that allows solicitors to record new legal matters as they come in. This means the lawyers are no longer tied to Sydney and can work remotely, with McMahon’s clients based in Sydney and the Bega Valley area south of Kiama.
His household also has a phone line on the NBN, with only a “dinosaur” fax machine still on the copper network.
Without the NBN, McMahon says working from home would have been a lot slower and more frustrating.
“The best thing is the speed at which the whole thing works. I suppose the worst thing is the teething troubles in getting it up and running,” he says.
Henny Williams, business owner of Essential Bookkeeping Solutions, also lives in Kiama Downs and has experienced numerous issues with the NBN.
She has around 70 clients for her bookkeeping business and uses the Internet for basic functions such as email, accessing Australian Tax Office portals and lodging BAS statements.
But reliable and faster Internet has become more important for her as more businesses and individuals move to cloud-based accounting.
“So it’s really important for us to have a good Internet connection so that we can process work for our clients using Internet-based software,” she says.
“If it’s a slow connection, then that slows us down, so the NBN has been fantastic for that.”
Williams has been connected to the NBN for around 15 months and is on the 100/40Mbps speed with Exetel, paying around $50 a month.
Williams says she signed up to the fastest speed on the network because the price was comparable to what she was paying on ADSL2 with TPG.
She initially heard about the benefits of the NBN, such as its reliability and speeds, and made the switch when she realised it was going to benefit her business.