Laptop sales spike, NBN 'struggles' as Tamworth residents work from home
Demand for laptops and a struggling NBN are just two more impacts of the COVID-19 crisis revealed one of Tamworth's tech experts.
Taj Southwell, the owner of TJS IT Solutions, has been operating in the region for three years and has noticed a marked increase in the need for his services. Mr Southwell said they have stopped all their house calls for staff safety, but are continuing with business call-outs as they can maintain social distancing rules. He added that in some aspects, there had been an increase in businesses as hordes of people shift to working from home. "We've been doing a lot of free, over the phone and online consultations, just talking people through how to do a lot of things, because that's one of the little community support things that we're doing," he said. "But the biggest thing at the moment has been trying to find enough laptops for everyone. "I've sold dozens and dozens of new and refurbished laptops over the last two weeks, and it's now at the point even the distributors are saying, 'we're not sure if we can complete any of orders' and, funnily enough, it's all the laptops that are underneath that $1,000 mark." Mr Southwell said China's starting to open their factories again now, and supply lines will start easing over the next say six weeks. He added what is happening as a result of COVID-19 is a precursor to a significant cultural shift. "We're providing these services for people anyway, so that will give a boost to anyone in my kind of sector," Mr Southwell added. "For the next even two years I think, we'll still be feeling these kinds of effects and these kinds of changes. "The disappointing thing is that we're left with a completely unsuitable NBN. Everyone's struggling with it, and it can't keep up with demand." Mr Southwell explained that Netflix, YouTube, and other online service providers have to compress their data further to make sure that the network doesn't collapse. He added that NBN's handing out extra additional bandwidth to the telcos so that they can maintain a primary business structure. "This wouldn't have been the case if we had fibre to the premises," Mr Southwell said. "Realistically, if they wanted to upgrade the NBN, so it was suitable for this purpose, they would essentially have to reinvest from the beginning and start again. "We can get some upgrades with fibre to the node, or we can do the subtle shifts of fibre to the curb, which can help reduce a lot of that traffic, so instead of a 100 houses connected to one node, it could be 10 houses connected to one point on the curb so that the bandwidth will be more easily managed. But that's all we can do unless we go fibre to the premises, like every other industrial country in the world." Mr Southwell said soon the NBN will probably not function as a business model when they're going to have comparable plans on 5G that can give consumers 400 to 500 megabytes a second, download, for the same price that they would get 30. NBN Co's chief residential customer officer, Brad Whitcomb said access to secure and resilient broadband is more important than ever for Australia's business, education and entertainment needs and NBN Co seeks to support Australians during this time. "As more people start to work and learn from home, we've seen a substantial increase in the peak throughput on our main wholesale service during the daytime business hours, early evening and busy evening periods," he said. "And as we continue to see these increases in data demand, the network continues to perform well, helping internet providers to support the internet needs of Australian homes and businesses. "We are very pleased that the network continues to operate well in these unprecedented times and is accommodating the increased data load. It shows the nbn is well-prepared to handle Australia's growing data demand at a time when the nation most needs high-speed, reliable broadband." Mr Southwell also urged people to amp up their online security and be sceptical when it comes to emails and phone calls to ensure they don't get scammed.