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NBN not meeting customer expectations: TIO

17 April 2018

The number of Australia homes and businesses connected to faster national broadband speed plans has more than doubled thanks to NBN Co's temporary discounted pricing which the company says will be superseded by new bundles from May.

"The changes mean our data will more accurately reflect the description of complaints given by residential consumers and small businesses".

NBN Co had also made the network available to an additional 3.3 million premises during that period, he said, which would have affected complaint numbers.

"This six-month update reflects the changed recording of service types and issues".

Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman Judi Jones told News Corp skyrocketing NBN complaints showed service on the $49 billion network was still falling short of consumers' expectations, in a trend she labelled "concerning". "Recent changes to regulation and an increase in our powers to resolve complaints are positive steps that will help improve the consumer experience".

"However, consumers still seem to be facing the same problems, particularly with their bills and the customer service they receive".

But unresolved issues with phone and internet services increased "across the board" in Australia, she said, with consumers and small businesses lodging nearly 20,000 more complaints between July and December 2017 than they did the year before.

Mobile phone services proved the biggest source of complaints, followed by internet connections, and the most common gripes involved fees, poor responses, and service quality.

The figures released by the TIO reveal that overall complaints about landline, mobile and Internet services grew by 28.7 per cent in the second half of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016.

"We will continue to work with industry to improve those parts of the customer's end-to-end experience within our control to reduce complaint volumes".

She added that a number of initiatives around broadband speeds are "bearing fruit" and that speeds - even during peak hour - are often exceeding advertised speeds, citing the recent ACCC Broadband Speed Monitoring Report.

Of all complaints, 74,729 came from residential consumers and 9,947 from small businesses.

New South Wales had the highest total complaints with 26,914, up 27.9 percent, followed by Victoria's 23,954 complaints, or a 30.5 percent increase.

Congestion has dropped in the previous year from seven hours down to just 18 minutes per week, NBN has said.

As previously reported, a year ago the NBN Co temporarily reduced prices for its top-tier speeds for ISPs - e.g. its 50Mbps service sold for the price of the popular 25Mbps.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is now consulting on the introduction of new complaints-handling rules for telcos that offer services over the NBN.

While Michelle Rowland has called for the government to explain NBN's 5G trials and Vodafone says NBN has too much 5G spectrum, Bevan Slattery has said there is a "great opportunity" for NBN to offer wholesale 5G services.

NBN not meeting customer expectations: TIO