STRESSFUL: Betty and Wal Phelps of Kyogle have been without a landline for six weeks after beiing told to switch to the NBN.
STRESSFUL: Betty and Wal Phelps of Kyogle have been without a landline for six weeks after beiing told to switch to the NBN. Susanna Freymark

Couple's six-week wait for phone repair

THE last time Betty Phelps heard a signal on her phone was Monday, June 4.

At the Phelp's Kyogle home, two handsets sit idle.

Betty glares at them as if it's their fault she can't phone anyone.

She remembers the day the phone went dead.

"I heard voices on the line. I set the receiver down, then lifted it up again.

"It was dead," she said.

Eighty-five year old Betty isn't concerned about herself. She is worried sick, she said, about her husband, Wallis.

"Wal has prostate cancer and has to have a a catheter," Betty said.

The day we meet the Phelps is Wal's 93rd birthday.

He looks concerned when Betty gets upset about not being able to reach people.

"We almost lost him last year," she said of her husband.

The phone is Wal and Betty's lifeline.

They have a medi -alert alarm in case Wal needs an ambulance but it is the day to to day life managing carers, nurses and doctor visits for Wal that Betty can no longer do.

"The stress has got to my very being," Betty said.

Neighbours, friends and family on the other side of Kyogle have to keep Betty informed. Her daughter-in-law had to drive to the Phelps to let them know they had another grandchild, born at 8pm, the night before.

Betty isn't on the internet, she doesn't want Facebook and she tried a mobile phone but couldn't get her head around it.

"I just want a phone," she said.

Telstra sent someone, twice, Betty said, and the technician told her it was an NBN issue not Telstra 's responsibility.

Given Wal's condition, Betty said there was a legal requirement that people at risk had a connection within 24 hours.

Six weeks later, Betty is still waiting.

A relative called the Ombudsman and also spoke to Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan.

We rang Mr Hogan's office to see what was being done for the Phelps.

"I have spoken to Telstra on three occasions about this," Mr Hogan said.

"Telstra were at the couple's home just last week trying to resolve the problem. We are continuing to talk to them to fast track the solution.

"The Government pays Telstra $230 million a year to maintain these services."

Mr Hogan said the line would be fixed within 10 days.

Richmond Technology's John Oomen has offered to help the Phelps for free. He writes the new Tech Talk column for the Richmond River Express Examiner.