The Internet…a human right?

Someone asked me the question once which was if internet access was a ‘human right’…I thought then that it probably wasn’t…yet…but within a very short space of time, when everything has gone digital, newspapers no longer exist and all our ‘television’ comes through a fibre optic cable to our front door…then it probably will be.

Having made the decision that currently internet isn’t a human right it still leaves me in an interesting situation. You see I am in one of those areas of Auckland that doesn’t get broadband. Yes I have internet (if you can call it that), it’s a local Wireless signal that someone looking for a solution from dial-up basically sorted themselves. I really appreciate it, but it’s the equivalent of less than a one meg line. It is far superior to dial-up…but way inferior to cable based broadband so we are looking forward to the day that we get plain old broadband to our front door. And that’s where my saga begins.

We had some telephone lines installed into our new property, the guy from Chorus was really helpful and friendly, he actually told us about how the fibre optic ‘thrusting’ was going. We were told that it needed to be at the settlement past us, which is about 5 – 10 kms away, but the end of the year or else Chorus would face a $250,000 penalty for a breach of contractual agreement. We were pretty happy to hear this, we thought we may only have to have this below-average internet connection until the end of the year.

So come October/November I started to make some enquires to get ready to have our broadband finally come into the 21st century.

I phoned Chorus, but they couldn’t confirm where each of their teams were, and how long they had to go on a job. Chorus also told me that the only people who could tell me if the upgrade had been complete was my own ISP. Apparently Chorus head office doesn’t communicate with their teams as to when they are finished jobs…or so I was led to believe…I guess the other possibility is that they are full of it, and didn’t want to help this minor consumer of their product…but I’m sure that wouldn’t be the case.

“Alright,” I thought,  I phoned my ISP. In other words I phoned an ISP looking for a new connection…well to be truthful, I phoned a couple of ISP’s to see if they could tell me if the job was complete and that broadband was on. If the connection was active, then I’d like to get a connection. See that’s how I thought this would work…logically…you tell me if you have the product, then I will decide if I want to buy it from you…but ‘No!’

What happens in the world of ISPs is that you need to sign up for a package, then they will check to see if the exchange is ready for you to receive broadband.

I phoned Telecom, Vodafone, Orcon and others, and they all told me the same thing…“you sign on the bottom line, then we’ll tell you if we can help you.”

To be honest I hadn’t decided with whom I wanted to go last year so I left it…until yesterday.

I phoned back Telecom, thinking that at least they are connected with Chorus, and maybe they can now give me some more information…alas I was wrong. When I heard the accent straight out of the Philippines I knew I was in trouble straight away, no local knowledge, and certainly no way to speak with someone on a one-to-one level. Speaking with an international call centre when it comes to the responses one receives and ability to relate to an average Kiwi is only one step above speaking to an automated answer machine. I don’t mean that in a derogatory way to the lovely lady at the end of the phone, but sometimes you need someone in your region to be able to understand that you need to go outside the script to answer this question. We came to the same answer where if I chose a plan they would go and check and again I declined mostly because the Telecom plans seemed quite expensive to me. About an hour later the same delightful lady phoned me back just to check that I didn’t want to sign up…because if I didn’t I might miss out. Again I declined…she asked me if I wanted her to phone back when I’d had more of a chance to think about it, so I asked, “You want to phone me back, and when you do I’ll need to select a plan so you can then go and check if the exchange can service me”, to which the reply was “Yes!”…”then no thank you, I don’t want you to phone me back.”

I don’t know when we will get broadband into our property, when we do I’ll let you know but having to use this frightfully slow wireless connection, that doesn’t play video, that won’t let our phones or tablet connect to APP stores, and that cuts out in bad weather I have to say after six months I know think that internet is, and should be a human right…well at least this human’s right.