A $600,000 business centre planned to help small businesses in the Adelaide Hills town of Woodside is on hold because Telstra is unable to provide telephone lines for the recently refurbished building.
Adelaide Hills Business Centre founder and experienced business coach Gordon Kay was gobsmacked when Telstra informed him that no telephone lines were available for the building. “When I called Telstra last December, they said to place my order when the renovation was finished,” he said.
“So I contacted them at the start of June and was told – four weeks later - that no phone lines or ADSL2+ services were available. I was gobsmacked. Of all the things that I’d considered to set up this business centre, it had never crossed my mind that it would not be possible to get a telephone line.
“A Telstra representative told me they have no plans to upgrade infrastructure in the area as the problem would be fixed when the NBN rolls out. But when I checked with NBNCo, they said Woodside is not on their rollout plans at the moment.
“Any proper business centre needs telephone lines and Internet access. Mobile data is incredibly expensive and Telstra’s mobile network at Woodside is quite old infrastructure that would not adequately handle the Internet needs for this sort of operation.
“I must admit I’m struggling to accept that communications 37km from the state capital of Adelaide is still working on overloaded 1990s technology ”
In the semi-rural area where many small business owners work from home, the Adelaide Hills Business Centre was designed to provide affordable access to professional business services. The centre aimed to use new technology to create a coworking centre that provides:
- A Media Production Studio, including a soundproof area with chroma colour, video and sound mixing equipment to let local businesses engage with a greater market via video and podcast recordings
- An interactive boardroom incorporating a walkup data wall with a live global conference feed
- High speed WiFi Internet access for all members attending the centre with access to Internet connect smart displays.
Businesses would pay a membership fee that allowed them to gain access to these facilities without actually having to rent space in the premises. This is the first of three such business centres planned for the Adelaide Hills.
Gordon Kay said opening the centre was on hold until this phone foul-up was fixed. “To date, I’ve invested about $600,000 to create this business centre,” he said.
“In preparation, I contacted Telstra in December 2013 regarding an ADSL2+ connection. At the time Telstra suggested that I establish a connection at the time of building completion. I placed an order with Telstra on June 6, yet it was not until July 3 that we were informed that no lines or ADSL2+ data ports are available in its infrastructure.
“I’m not the only one experiencing this. I know of other residents and businesses in the area who are affected by Telstra’s lack of communications capacity. It seems Telstra is using the NBN as a way to avoid its corporate responsibility to maintain its infrastructure at a level to meet Woodside’s needs.
“My goal was to build a stronger Adelaide Hills business sector by supporting local businesses with a great facility, which would help them reach wider markets and grow local jobs.
“This experience makes me question whether the Adelaide Hills is a place to develop business opportunities at all. For its 40,000 residents it’s a great place to live - but not to set up a business.”
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A Telstra technician attended the Adelaide Hills Business Centre on Wednesday, July 9, to connect up a telephone line and an ADSL broadband service.
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