Looking up Gumeracha's main Albert Street

NBN comes to Gumeracha, Telco spammers and scammers

The National Broadband Network (NBN), or High Speed Internet was being rolled out throughout Gumeracha while we were there and people had been receiving spam calls from a number of Telco’s about upgrading their home phone and Internet packages. Within a year the old Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) was being turned off and if you wanted a land line, you needed to have an NBN or compatible modem installed.

Don’t give in to their scare tactics!

We noticed quite a few calls being taken by Leonie’s mother about this. She was clearly getting upset and frustrated by the shear number and confusion of the calls as she had already settled on a plan with Telstra for the NBN prior to us arriving. We answered a few calls for her. They were purporting to be accredited by Telstra and trying in a very stealthy way to convince us to ignore any prior arrangements with Telstra or NBN as they “would take care of everything”. After asking how much this would cost, we were told $98.98 per month. We explained that is much more than the seniors plan offered by Telstra which is $59 per month giving unlimited local, national and mobile calls and 25GB of data per month. They couldn’t come near to matching that offer and hung up in anger.

That offer is not even well known even amongst Telstra salespeople. Vic had spent several hours with Telstra finding the best deal for his mother in law as she had previously settled on a pay as you go plan which works out much more per month. It’s only available for seniors and is called Home Internet Starter – Includes 25GB Broadband, unlimited local calls, standard national calls and calls to standard Australian mobiles, International Saver rates, MessageBank, Calling Number Display, Family Calls Benefit and Broadband Protect.

Our suspicion is that these callers are getting people’s names from the White Pages and cold calling them, knowing the NBN is being rolled out and generally taking advantage of the innocence of the elderly around these new technologies. The NBN, Voice-Over-IP, Modems/Routers and terms like that get lost on many people and they try to take advantage. Talking to a few townsfolk we found there was quite a bit of confusion about what the NBN rollout meant, despite there being a community town hall meeting about this in November. If you haven’t had the Internet before and are not used to having an ADSL router in your house, we can see how people question why they need an additional box (NBN router) installed in their house which needs to be powered. And if the power goes out (a common occurrence in South Australia, especially in the Hills during the summer), your regular phone won’t work where it did before so you better have a mobile phone handy. As Leonie’s mum lamented, “This is progress is it?”. One can only sympathise with her. The argument about increased Internet speeds won’t wash on someone who doesn’t use a computer or have Netflix.

Scammers pretending to be from Telstra Technical Support continue cold-calling Australians

During December and January we also fielded several scam callers saying our email was going to be cut off and to run a certain program on the computer to check it out. We adopted the tactic of stringing them out and wasting their time for as long as possible, one call lasting about 20 minutes until he realised what we were doing. He became quite agitated and even put us onto his manager, who insisted the call was legitimate, and then we told them what we thought about their scam. He too became agitated, accused us for wasting their time and then promptly hung up.

Others were like this one, published on ACCC’s Scamwatch, back in 2014, pretending to be from the “Telstra Technical Support Department”.

If you receive one of these calls, just ask them how they are able to sleep at night knowing they have scammed someone out of their money. They probably don’t care, but it usually results in them just hanging up.

Camping at Pildappa Rock

Data is the lifeblood of an e-Nomad

If you’re an e-nomad, on the road full-time and working around Australia as we are, access to data through your mobile devices like phone, tablet and laptop is vital.

We own our phones and use the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) data plan with Telstra. For people reading this outside of Australia, there are only three major telco carriers in Australia: Telstra, Optus and Vodafone. Telstra has the lions share of the market and is the top choice for coverage if you want to do any travelling outside of the capital cities and in remote areas.

Our mobile data plans had 8GB each and are joined so we can use up to 16GB per month. About three quarters of the way through the month (November 2017) we were already 3GB over our limit with one week left. Telstra charge $10 extra per GB so we went to a Telstra store to see what options we had. We were able to upgrade to a newer plan for $9 per month extra for each phone. So for $59 each gives us 20GB, so 40GB in total per month.

We use Telstra Air and Telstra Hotspots where ever we can to save on data as usage does not count towards your quota, but hanging around a hotspot for hours just doesn’t cut it. You also tend to get moved on after setting up camp near one and firing up the BBQ and cracking open a beer!

Optus had a 200GB per month wireless plan for $70 per month but you needed to lock in for one year so we decided to pass on that for now.

So we will have to ration to about 1.3GB per day between us. We also turn all devices to Aeroplane mode overnight as well and when not in use to also limit data usage and save power, the other lifeblood of an e-nomad! Using the Telstra 24×7 app allows you to monitor your usage. It doesn’t update live so you need to generally wait overnight. One trick Googled was to pause all devices from data activity for a few minutes. This causes Telstra systems to update the information so you can see your usage quicker. It seems to work. Please let me know if there’s a better way.