THE Albion Park and Oak Flats communities have been urged to make their voices heard and ensure the neglected suburbs are hooked up to the National Broadband Network.
Some 600 signatures have been gathered on a petition, but the Albion Park Chamber of Commerce believes there needs to be wider support or the suburbs risk missing out.
About 50 residents attended a public meeting hosted by Throsby MP Stephen Jones and the chamber at Albion Park Community Centre last Wednesday night.
In March it was announced work would begin by mid-2015 to extend the fibre network to more than 50 new Illawarra suburbs.
Thousands of homes in Warilla, Shell Cove, Flinders, Barrack Heights and Shellharbour City Centre were included in the three-year plan.
However, Albion Park, Albion Park Rail and Oak Flats were overlooked.
“As relatively new suburbs in the region, Albion Park and Oak Flats have more problems than most getting ADSL broadband,’’ Mr Jones said.
“High-speed broadband is an essential utility in the 21st century and it’s unacceptable that high-population areas like Albion Park and Oak Flats are still reliant on old copper wiring and poorly maintained exchanges.’’
Mr Jones said he planned to take a delegation to Canberra to meet with Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, about the area’s needs.
Chamber president Jim McCallum feared for the worst should the suburbs miss out again.
‘‘We should be making sure the community gets off their backsides and need to make them aware that we may miss out on the next stage,’’ he said.
‘‘We’re being held back by lack of facilities.’’