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Current as of 24/10/14 07:40PM NZST

Telecom finally organises broadband for multimillionaire

By Claire Trevett, Jenny Keown

Telecom's rivals flocked to the smart frontdoor of multimillionaire Jenny Gibbs yesterday to offer her broadband, only to be pipped at the post by the giant telco.

The firm moved swiftly to get its service to the unhappy arts patron on the same day she went public about waiting two years to get broadband in her Paritai Drive home.

Mrs Gibbs had been told that the exchange in her area had no extra capacity. But soon after yesterday's Herald article appeared, Telecom connected Mrs Gibbs as its rivals rushed to her dress-circle street in Orakei to show off their alternatives.

Phone and internet companies Vodafone and Woosh parked outside her house, testing equipment to see if she could get their wireless broadband services, and offered their own broadband options.

Orcon also sent a truck to Paritai Drive to see if she could be connected by satellite via a Skype phone. Woosh sent sales staff door-knocking along Paritai Drive, and Compass Communications also touted its wireless service to some areas of main centres.

Mrs Gibbs - whose holiday house at Piha was used for a Telecom advertisement - confirmed the company had finally offered the broadband service yesterday and said she did not want to comment further.

She decided to go public in anger at seeing television advertising in the past few weeks for Telecom's super-fast broadband.

Telecom said the six Paritai Drive homes waiting for the service were in the process of being connected when Mrs Gibbs made her feelings public.

Telecom's general manager of technology operations, Kelly Moore, said the two cabinets that serviced Paritai Drive hit their maximum load last year. Two extra units to boost the capacity were installed last month, and technicians had begun connecting the six homes soon after.

The Herald report sparked a flow of similar complaints to the newspaper.

Pt Chevalier resident Garry Griggs said a salesman knocked on his door in January last year to offer the deal and "we jumped at the chance". But Telecom rang three weeks later to say the house was too far away.

When he asked why the company had come to his door to offer it, he was told it did not check each street until people on it signed up.

Ashleen Theunisen, of Pinehill, an Albany subdivision, said she bought broadband and installed a modem last November after a salesperson said it was available. She was then told there would be a six-month wait because it was a new subdivision and resource consent was needed.

Ms Moore said the company had 486,000 broadband customers and a further 852 who were waiting, including 372 in Greater Auckland.

She said Telecom was "always upgrading and installing more broadband equipment to try to keep ahead of demand" in cases where it was not available because the exchange or roadside cabinet which supplied the broadband was full.

The company apologised for any cases where customers had signed up with salespeople offering the service door to door, only to find broadband was not available.


In the pipeline

* Telecom's Xtra broadband connections:

* 486,000 broadband customers.

* 852 waiting, 372 in the Greater Auckland region. Broadband is available to 93 per cent of Telecom customers.

* Availability restricted by the distance of the home from the exchange or roadside cabinet. Broadband usually unavailable if the customer is more than 4-5km away, and where the exchange or cabinet is already at capacity.

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