NBN under fire as internet complaints surge
AUSTRALIANS have lodged a record number of complaints about their home internet service in the past financial year.
While recent headlines about Kenya having better internet than Australia may not exactly stand up to scrutiny, Aussies continue to be underwhelmed with their home broadband connection.
In fact, complaints from residential consumers and small businesses about landline phones, mobile phones and internet services all increased in the past year, according to the Telecommunication Industry Ombudsman's latest report.
For the first time, internet services accounted for the highest source of complaints, the TIO said.
The report, released today, reveals there were 63,892 complaints recorded about home internet services, which amounts to a year-on-year increase of 64.8 per cent.
There were 52,300 complaints about mobile phone service (up 27.5 per cent) and 41,824 complaints about landline phones (up 30.1 per cent).
In the same report last year, complaints about mobile services actually fell and were at their lowest level in nine years.
As more and more people connect to the National Broadband Network (NBN), complaints from users jumped considerably with an increase of 159.3 per cent compared to the year before.
"The picture the complaints show is we are frustrated when we cannot rely on technology to stay connected, to be informed, and to do business," said Ombudsman Judi Jones.
"Sharing high quality videos immediately, holding an online meeting or watching Netflix on the way home, is now the norm and part of our daily routine.
"For the first time, complaints about internet services are now higher than complaints about mobile phones," she added.
The TIO started recording and reporting complaints about services delivered over the NBN in 2013. As the rollout continues to ramp up, it's no surprise the number of complaints has risen.
The NBN has added more than 1.4 million active connections in the period accounted for and this week the company moved past the milestone of 3 million active connections.
"Complaints about services delivered over the National Broadband Network more than doubled, and while this is somewhat to be expected given the accelerating rollout, the increase is a cause for concern," Ms Jones said.
"The National Broadband Network project is complex, and it is important all parties involved work together to ensure a great consumer experience."
More than 27,000 complaints were recorded about services delivered over the NBN, a year-on-year increase of 159.3 per cent.
There were 16,221 complaints lodged about faults in services delivered over the national network. To put that into perspective, that is 6.7 fault complaints per 1000 active premises.
There was also 11,224 complaints made about connection delays which amounts to 8.3 connection delay complaints per 1000 premises.
"We acknowledge that the increase in complaints to the TIO about services delivered over the NBN in the 2016/17 financial year is regrettable," the NBN said.
The company also pointed out the TIO report "does not distinguish between complaints that are the responsibility of NBN to resolve and those that are the responsibility of the retail service provider to resolve."
The NBN's Chief Network Engineering Officer, Peter Ryan, said the company is working hard to mitigate issues around delayed connections and network dropouts.
"While we may now be powering along in terms of adding homes and businesses to the network, we are very conscious that we have work to do in making sure they have an outstanding experience once they're on board," he wrote in a blog post Monday.
"We all know how crucial the internet is to our lives these days so, when it is not performing well or drops out altogether - even only for a few minutes - it is incredibly frustrating for people and we completely understand that."
The company says it is focusing on customers who missed being connected by a technician in the field for some reason, and is also introducing new diagnostic tools to help RSPs like Telstra and iiNet identify problems on the network.
"Our ultimate aim is to stop customers getting 'ping-ponged' between NBN and RSPs to solve a problem - we know this has to stop," Mr Ryan said.
HOW THE TELCOS FARED
The top ten service phone and internet providers accounted for 90.9 per cent of complaints. Here is the top five most complained about telcos.
• Telstra received 76,650 complaints, a year-on-year increase of 43.5 per cent.
• Optus received 28,766 complaints, a year-on-year increase of 31.2 per cent.
• Vodafone received 10,684 complaints, year-on-year increase of 37.5 per cent.
• iiNet received 10,170 complaints, a year-on-year increase of 79 per cent.
• TPG received 6,995 complaints, year-on-year increase of 44.9 per cent.