One of the big challenges about setting up our new office at North Lakes was internet connectivity and lack of access to the NBN. So we thought it would serve as a good learning exercise for those who may be experiencing similar issues or are thinking of moving into a new commercial premise.

Cooke and Hutchinson Lawyers is small business that relies heavily on internet access to operate effectively (let’s face it, which business doesn’t?) so it was alarming to us that these were issues that had to be negotiated. Issues that only recently, and with a lot of time and effort, have come to be resolved.

One of the first things we allowed for in our building plans for the new office was for ports and cabling access for ADSL2 and, eventually, NBN. This was the most obvious consideration during the whole process of establishing our office at North Lakes. We had anticipated that, as will always be the case with any new infrastructure, there would be hiccups along the way and were told as much by our provider. However, there were some problems that we did not, indeed could not, have anticipated.

First and foremost is the manifestly inadequate network coverage provided by the exchange in the area. We were told time and again by over a dozen different providers that in all likelihood we would have to wait until a new exchange had been built as the one that serves North Lakes (the Kallangur exchange) had no more ports available. This was likely going to take anywhere between 3-12 months we were told and even then there were no guarantees.

The only solution was to invest in a 4G wireless modem. While this provided a solution of sorts, the modem accessed internet coverage through the local phone tower and was therefore susceptible to connection drop outs and slow speeds in periods of high traffic. While this was manageable in the short term, as our North Lakes base is currently used as a satellite office, this was obviously going to be a serious problem if it continued into the long term.

The added concern was the issue of NBN hook ups in the area, or lack thereof. Looking for a solution to the ADSL issue, we jumped on the NBNCO website to see if there was any access in the local area. To our surprise there was a small area less than one kilometre away that had been selected for NBN access. However, it was this area and only this area that had been selected for access, as we were told in no uncertain terms by the NBNCO rep we spoke to. Of course, this person was unable to explain why that small area had been selected, only that it had and we would just have to keep an eye on the website for updates. Was the lack of NBN rollout a reflection of how difficult it would be to get ADSL2?

Thankfully it was not. After much persistence and badgering of our provider, last week there was an unexpected knock on the door. A short while later, we had ADSL2 up and running.

While obviously a welcome turn of events, the fact that we were encountering such issues meant that there would be others in the same boat. With this in mind, we were pleased to be able to invite newly elected Federal member for Petrie, Luke Howarth, to our North Lakes office to discuss the issue.

Mr Howarth’s response to C&H’s concerns about internet problems in North Lakes has been encouraging. He has endeavoured to bring it to the attention of Federal Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull and will continue to pursue the matter with interest.

While we can’t say for sure what had changed in between getting told that it might be 12 months before we would be connected and last Monday’s installation, we do know that too much advance homework is never enough. Also that you never take no for an answer from your service provider!