Telstra pushes back Canberra broadband meeting

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Telstra pushes back Canberra broadband meeting

Not to allow it time to upgrade troubled exchange.

Telstra has postponed a planned appearance at a community meeting of aggrieved internet users in North Canberra until mid-July.

Residents of Gungahlin and surrounds say their broadband speeds degrade during "peak" times of day, in some cases down to dial-up rates.

Telstra's area general manager based in Canberra, Chris Taylor, had been due to meet with residents to discuss the long-running problems on June 9.

But a statement posted to the Gungahlin Community Council website indicated Taylor would now meet with residents on July 14.

Taylor told iTnews he had to postpone attendance due to his involvement in a Telstra Countrywide 10th anniversary dinner function the same night.

He denied speculation by Gungahlin Community Council president Alan Kerlin that the date was pushed back to allow Telstra to upgrade the network before Taylor fronted residents about it.

"I'm not trying to delay the meeting until we get some stuff fixed," Taylor said.

"I'd be happy to do [the meeting] tomorrow if I got the call."

Kerlin told iTnews that an email from Taylor postponing the meeting included "some information about upgrades to the Crace exchange, including the [remote integrated multiplexers] I'm connected to for my own service."

"I wondered whether they were trying to upgrade some of the problems before he [Taylor] had to front up."

The concerns were shared by activist Russ Gillon on his ACT Broadband blog.

"I hope his appearance is not being timed with these upgrades to give the impression he is some sort of White Knight to our problems," Gillon wrote.

Gillon is spearheading a campaign to have North Canberra prioritised in the rollout of the national broadband network (NBN) to alleviate the slow internet speed issues.

No rock star welcome

Taylor conceded he wasn't expecting "the red carpet to roll out" when the July meeting comes around.

"I can understand that people are going to have their opinions," Taylor said.

"All I can do is give them the facts."

Taylor - himself a Gungahlin resident - said he would use the meeting to share details of some cost-effective "fixes" that he said would help alleviate broadband speed issues for affected residents.

The backstory

The meeting came about after Taylor purportedly took issue with comments made by long-time campaigner Russ Gillon to Gungahlin News over "sub-standard internet" in the area.

"I must admit it was a surprise to me when [Taylor] accepted our invitation," Gungahlin Community Council president Alan Kerlin said.

"It was disappointing he [since] deferred because I think quite a few people heard about it and were looking forward to coming and giving [Telstra] a piece of their mind."

Kerlin said the postponement meant the meeting could be moved to a larger room at the Palmerston Community Centre.

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