Residents frustrated with unreliable internet connection

As more West Coast ghost towns get cellphone towers, Haast residents are finding themselves chasing a "ghost" broadband signal.

The remote area has been plagued with communication problems for years.

Now the broadband signal from satellite provider Farmside, which many in Haast rely on for their internet, is playing up.

Okuru resident Neroli Nolan contacted the Greymouth Star recently after waiting three minutes for a website to load up. She said the problems had been going on for 10 days.

For country residents paying $165 a month for Farmside, it is a bitter pill.

Ms Nolan said internet provider Wifi Connect had recently put a transmitter in Haast, but not everyone could connect to it.

Last year, Vital said it had made the "difficult choice" to retire the wholesale residential service in Haast, "in particular given the age of the equipment in the field and need to refresh to provide an acceptable quality of service".

Soon after, Farmside said Vital agreed to extend its services.

Farmside general manager Jason Sharp said they had been in regular discussions with Vital and the Government since Vital first indicated it would be withdrawing service from Haast.

"We’re still hopeful we’ll come to a longer-term solution to offer reliable internet services in Haast, but as we currently rely on Vital to maintain connectivity we are therefore at their mercy when the internet cuts out," Mr Sharp said.

"We apologise to any customers struggling with internet issues as it’s incredibly frustrating for the Haast community, so we’ll continue to urge Vital and other parties involved to move as quickly as possible."

The cause of the problem had been pinpointed and spare equipment was being sourced, he said.

The Government has just invested in erecting cell towers in the abandoned gold towns of Berlins, in the Buller Gorge, and Gillespies Beach, in South Westland.

- By Laura Mills, Greymouth Star

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