Figures released today by the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman reveal complaints to the TIO about telco services increased in the three-month period ending 30 June.
The quarterly ‘complaints in context’ report released by the TIO and industry body Communications Alliance includes the number of complaints as a proportion of the total number of telecommunications ‘services in operation’ (SIO).
The figures cover new disputes involving landline, mobile and Internet services lodged with the TIO by consumers and small businesses. Across all the telcos, complaints per 10,000 SIO climbed to 9 from 6.4 in the corresponding period in 2016, and up from 8.4 in the quarter immediately prior.
Of the big three telcos, Optus received the most complaints per 10,000 SIO — 10.1 — followed closely by Telstra (10). In the previous quarter both telcos had received an average of 9.3 complaints per 10,000 services. Vodafone receive 4.5 complaints per 10,000 SIO, up from 3.9.
In the TIO’s report for 2016, released in May this year, the organisation revealed a 33.8 per cent year-on-year increase in complaints.
Complaints about Internet services, which represented 37 per cent of all complaints, grew by a startling 53.6 per cent.
The growth in complaints was partly attributed to the transition to the National Broadband Network.
There were 7512 NBN-related complaints made to the TIO in the second half of last year: A 117.5 per cent increase compared to the same period in 2015.
TIO complaints about NBN services have so far still lagged behind the pace of the network rollout.
NBN CEO Bill Morrow has recently argued that some of the poor experiences reported by end users on the new network can be attributed to telcos pushing cheap, lower-speed broadband plans and in some cases not purchasing adequate capacity to serve their users during peak periods.
Earlier this month the federal government announced that the Australian Communications and Media Authority would use its information-gathering powers to investigate the end user experience on the National Broadband Network.
“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,” the government said at the time. “It will also help reduce the passing of customer complaints between retailers and NBN.”
The government is also funding a broadband performance monitoring scheme that will be run by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
The scheme will involve the installation of monitoring hardware in some 4000 volunteer households to assess a range of broadband performance metrics, focusing on National Broadband Network connections.