The Australian Communications and Media Authority will scrutinise end user experience on the National Broadband Network, with the ACMA to use powers granted to it by the Telecommunications Act to gather information from a range of participants in the NBN market.
Communications minister Senator Mitch Fifield today announced the move, which he said will involve the ACMA gathering data from 21 organisations, including retailers, wholesale providers and NBN.
That data will include fault handling, connection timeframes, appointment keeping and telephone number porting, the government said.
“This information will be used to identify where customer issues most commonly arise and how those issues can be either avoided or resolved more quickly,” a statement released by Fifield said. “It will also help reduce the passing of customer complaints between retailers and NBN.”
“As the number of consumers migrating to the NBN has increased, so too has the number of reports of consumer problems. Reported problems include issues around connection to the NBN and subsequent faults and performance issues,” the ACMA said.
“A clear and comprehensive set of information is needed to achieve a better understanding of the type, incidence and causes of these problems.”
“Why has it taken until August 2017 for the government to pursue research on the systemic root causes impacting experience on the NBN?” said Labor’s shadow communications minister, Michelle Rowland.
“The Turnbull government’s initiatives appear to simply follow the media cycle – there is no authenticity or integrity in the commitment to consumers.”
Complaints about the NBN have surged as the rollout has progressed. NBN has previously said that some of the issues encountered by end users don’t relate to its access network but the amount of capacity commissioned by retail service providers (RSPs) and issues either within households or within RSPs’ networks.
Earlier this year the government announced it would fund a broadband performance monitoring scheme run by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
Under that scheme, which will be focused on the performance of NBN services obtained from a variety of RSPs, some 4000 households will have hardware installed to monitor the performance of their fixed-lined services.
NBN CEO Bill Morrow yesterday slammed what he said was a “land grab” by RSPs seeking to gain marketshare by offering cheap broadband plans.
RSPs’ “primary marketing strategy” has been “focused on price with little mention of data speed or quality during the peak of the day”, Morrow wrote in a position paper.
The drive for market share via cheap NBN broadband plans means that RSPs are skimping on their ratio of Connectivity Virtual Circuit (CVC) —capacity on NBN’s network — per end user, Morrow argued.