Internet congestion a headache for students

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
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The region’s telecommunications network is struggling under the weight of residents and school students now working from home.

Residents told the Times many were frustrated with line speeds and sites failing to load.

They also said the lack of capacity was one of the region’s long-standing problems.

Margaret River Senior High School notified parents last week about a fourfold surge in use of the Education Department’s Connect portal.

“Further increases are under way, but the level of demand in such a short period presents an unprecedented challenge,” principal Andrew Host told parents.

Students would need more time to perform tasks because of increased congestion or difficulty connecting to some services, he said.

“While the telecommunications companies and NBN Co are taking steps to minimise impact on the network, this is a unique and global issue with many challenges,” Mr Host said.

A Telstra spokesman confirmed the surge in home use as well as call volumes from those accessing Government services.

“Overall mobile call volumes on certain routes and geographies are up significantly,” he said.

“We have made significant improvements to capacity and call routing on our network, which has allowed us to manage the significantly higher call volumes.”

Telstra had also boosted capacity to the NBN’s fixed line bandwidth and was fast-tracking capital expenditure nationwide.

Margaret River animator Mike Dunn said the drop-off in his data-intensive work meant online congestion was not a major problem.

“Stability is going to be a big issue,” he said.

“I have more and more web-based video conferencing projects, and downtime on the networks would be a real problem.”

Music teacher Mike Goodwin said he was called in to help friends with IT problems, noting some residents lived beyond phone range and did not have home internet, relying instead on mobile data, which sparked some frustrations.

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