1 May 2015

'I just wanted a plain phone'

3:01 pm on 1 May 2015

Elderly and disabled council tenants in Wellington are being forced to get ultra fast broadband they do not want or need, the residents say.

80 year old Yvette is a tenant at Marshall Court Apartments in Miramar.

Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Tenants at Marshall Court Apartments in Miramar have said they want only landlines but because their flats have fibre optic cabling installed they have to get broadband at the same time.

That increased their monthly bill from about $54 to $70 a month.

An elderly woman living in the apartments said having to pay for a modem she did not ask for was forcing her to give up things she does want.

Eighty-year-old Yvette said she just wanted a phone.

"There's a modem down there, now that means nothing to me if I wanted to use it I'd have to get my little darlings to come and turn it on.

"I didn't want a modem, but see it's forced on you....I just wanted a plain phone."

She said she could no longer afford the things she used to buy, like batteries for her clock.

Another resident, 78-year-old Brian, told Nine to Noon he did not know anyone in the complex who owned a computer.

"You got a letter from the council saying that you'd have to join broadband because it obviously was fitted out with broadband when we got in here.

 78-year-old Brian says he did not know anyone in the complex who owned a computer.

Brian,78, does not own a computer and just wants a landline. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Marshall Court Apartments, Miramar, Wellington.

Marshall Court Apartments Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

"But I said, 'well I haven't got a computer and I don't want it - I just want my Spark."

Brian said a landline was vital especially for emergencies and during power cuts.

Another tenant, Tupu Maiava,said she did not see an issue, saying the council gave the tenants $200 each to cover the extra cost.

Council manager of city housing Vicki McLaren said Chorus had refused to install copper wiring, and would only put in fibre-optic cabling which does not allow for a landline-only service.

The council was not not happy about the situation, she said.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs