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Current as of 24/09/14 04:40PM NZST

Rivals move after millionaire can't get Telecom broadband

By Jenny Keown

A few moments after a Herald article this morning about multimillionaire Jenny Gibbs unable to get broadband from Telecom, the rival phone companies were at her door.

Phone and internet companies Vodafone and Woosh were in vans parked outside her house in Paritai Drive testing equipment to see if Gibbs could get wireless broadband this morning.

Gibbs is worth $30 million, is the former wife of Alan Gibbs who was involved in the privatisation of Telecom and lives on one of the richest streets in New Zealand.

But she has been told by Telecom that she can not get broadband to her house.

Instead, Vodafone spokesman Paul Brislen said Gibbs was able to get wireless broadband and it was trying to get in touch with her to offer her a trial Vodem with a one megabit per second download speed.

Orcon spokesman Scott Bartlett said it would send a truck up this afternoon to Paritai Drive to see if she could be connected by satellite via a Skype phone.

Woosh is sending sales staff door-knocking along Paritai Drive this afternoon.

Gibbs was unable to be reached for comment.

The story began when the NZ Herald revealed today Gibbs' difficulties.

The Auckland philanthropist lives on Paritai Drive in Orakei, one of the wealthiest streets in New Zealand, and is the former wife of businessman Alan Gibbs - worth $450 million - who was involved in the privatisation of Telecom in the 1980s, but Telecom has told her she is living in the wrong area for broadband service.

Still on dial-up internet, Ms Gibbs has been trying for two years to get a broadband connection but has been told by the company it is not possible.

Her Piha holiday house has even featured in a Telecom ad - the one in which a man paints his wife's toenails as she video-conferences.

She has chosen not to pull any strings in Telecom, believing it to be inappropriate.

But after watching Telecom promote super-fast broadband on the television in the past few weeks, she has decided to go public.

Telecom has told her the Remuera exchange - which her phone line is connected to - is full and has no more capacity for delivering broadband to her house. A sales person told Gibbs that Howick and other eastern suburbs were suffering from the same problem.

"As if that was meant to console me," she said. "When I see the amount of money they are spending on advertising without putting it into infrastructure I do think it is a bit outrageous."

Telecom group technology officer Greg Patchell said it apologised to any customers who were waiting for a broadband connection. The Remuera exchange reached maximum capacity late last year and the company installed two cabinets last month to supply the extra customers.

Mr Patchell said six customers were waiting to be connected to broadband in Paratai Drive, but he did not say when that would happen.

Consumers Institute chief executive David Russell said the case emphasised the fact that Telecom and other phone and internet companies were over-hyping promotion of broadband.

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