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01 August 2017

NBN customer frustrations under review but company blames telcos

Frustrated Martin Bucher says he has had no home internet service for his laptop for the last four weeks and that since hooking up to the NBN it has been a “total nightmare”. Picture: Jake Nowakowski

FRUSTRATION with the National Broadband Network is so widespread the Federal Government today ordered an official review into poor customer experience with the maligned $49 billion project.

The investigation comes as NBN Co chief executive Bill Morrow acknowledged more Australians were experiencing “speed and performance issues” and installation headaches on the network, though he blamed “overheated, over-competitive” internet service providers.

Federal Minister for Communications and Arts, Senator Mitch Fifield, installs NBN cable with Berowra federal Liberal MP Julian Leeser. Picture: AAP Image/Ashley Feder

Federal Minister for Communications and Arts, Senator Mitch Fifield, installs NBN cable with Berowra federal Liberal MP Julian Leeser. Picture: AAP Image/Ashley FederSource:News Corp Australia

Federal Communications Minister, Senator Mitch Fifield said he ordered the review into “NBN customer experience” today to identify the biggest hurdles for users and attempt to reduce customer complaints passed between NBN Co and internet service providers.

READ MORE: Australians being held back by expensive, slow broadband

Complaints about the NBN to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman more than doubled in the last six months of 2016, and complaints about NBN connection speeds soared by 141 per cent.

The Australian Media and Communications Authority will administer the review, commissioning research into NBN users’ experiences before, during, and after installation, as well as collecting information on faults, connection deadlines, and appointment-keeping from 21 telecommunications firms, including internet service providers.

Complaints about the National Broadband Network more than doubled in the last six months of 2016.

Complaints about the National Broadband Network more than doubled in the last six months of 2016.Source:Supplied

Internet Australia executive director Laurie Patton welcomed the review, saying the Network was regularly caught falling short of consumer expectations.

“This is something we’ve been calling for and Senator Fifield is to be commended for acknowledging that this project has serious problems,” he said.

Mr Morrow also acknowledged growing NBN user complaints in a Senate Joint Standing Committee today, though he blamed an “overheated, over-competitive market” in which internet service providers focused more on price than service.

READ MORE: NBN technicians ‘basically walking away from jobs’

NBN installation, speed and performance issues were among the most common complaints, Mr Morrow said, and many stemmed from retailers competing fiercely on price, meaning “less time is spent with end users”.

“The vast majority of people using the NBN are satisfied with their services,” he said. “That’s not to say that there aren’t problems that need to be fixed.”

Mr Morrow said NBN Co was committed to “working with the industry to rectify this” and establishing better practices.

The National Broadband Network is due to be completed in 2020.

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