NBN complaints rise but trail rollout progress

Mobile complaints drop, TIO says

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman has reported an almost 100 per cent increase in the number of complaints about National Broadband Network services during FY16. However, the growth in new connections outstripped the increased NBN complaints.

The TIO reported today that overall there were 112,518 complaints made to it during 12 months from July 2015 to June 2016.

Complaints about faults on NBN services increased by 147.8 per cent, the TIO said, and complaints about NBN connections rose by 63.2 per cent.

There were 13,406 NBN-related complaints during the year, the TIO said, up from 6715 in the prior year. During the same period, active NBN connections grew from 485,615 to 1,098,634 — growth of 126 per cent.

Overall, the TIO, noted while mobile complaints fell during the year, Internet-related complaints grew. However, complaints related to mobile services still dominated, representing 36.6 per cent of complaints, followed by Internet (34.6 per cent — up from 25.6 per cent in FY15) and landline (28.8 per cent).

Shadow communications minister Michelle Rowland said that an analysis of the top 10 postcodes reflected higher complaints in areas where the NBN has employed fibre to the node technology, which relies on existing copper phonelines for the final connection to an end user’s premises.

“The vast majority of the areas that have recorded the highest number of complaints, including the NSW Central Coast and Bundaberg, have been relegated to the Turnbull government’s flawed copper-based FTTN,” Rowland said.

“The Turnbull government knew FTTN was never going to deliver the speeds and quality services that Australians want and need, but they are rolling it out regardless.”

“Consumers told us that slow data speed was the biggest problem with Internet services,” ombudsman Judi Jones said in a statement.

“New complaints about internet data speed increased by 48 per cent. Consumers also made an increased number of complaints about long waits for connections and repairing unreliable services."

“Complaints about mobile services fell by 28.8 per cent to their lowest level since 2006-07 – a strong indicator of ongoing improvements in mobile infrastructure and customer service, along with improved calling plans and features,” Communications Alliance CEO, John Stanton, said in a statement.

Stanton said that industry members within Communications Alliance “have already produced a comprehensive guidance note that documents for all stakeholders the processes needed to authorise, validate and complete the migration of legacy services over to the NBN.”

“This guidance – now being turned into an Industry Guideline — is making it easier to ensure that coordination among multiple players can occur, to provide a relatively seamless migration experience in almost all cases,” the CEO said.

“There is no doubt that moving large numbers of customers across networks is a complex and potentially disruptive process, but all industry players are committed to achieving further improvements and to making the process as simple as possible for consumers.”

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