NBN Co should to do more to address consumer complaints surge: Labor

Clarence Valley residents can look forward to faster internet in coming months

Clarence Valley residents can look forward to faster internet in coming months. NBN Co News NBN on its way to Clarence Valley

The figures released today by the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman show that over the 2017 calendar year NBN complaints to the TIO rose by 204 per cent - despite the number of new NBN activations only increasing by 105 per cent over that same period.

"Of the 22,827 complaints to the TIO about retail services delivered over the NBN access network from July to December 2017, less than five percent (1052 complaints) were sent to NBN Co to resolve", it said.

The report also indicates that there were 22,827 "complaints about services delivered over the NBN" in the 6-months of July to December 2017, which represents a 203.9 percent increase on the previous year.

The biggest gripe? Provider response, suggesting that ISPs are being a little coy when it comes to helping once they've got you on your contract but poor service quality sits in second place with nearly 40 percent of complaints showing the NBN itself still has a ways to go before it can claim it is delivering the internet that Australians are clamouring for.

To put that in perspective, however, there were 3.4 million people with services on the NBN in the time period, and close to one million were signed onto the service in the six months.

While the complaints by small businesses and the total complaints are down from the first half of 2017, the TIO points out that complaints activity is seasonal, so similar-period comparisons are more appropriate.

Speaking to the ABC, NBN co-chief customer officer Brad Whitcomb did suggest that this far along in the rollout it is important to both balance the customer experience and to ensure construction continues as necessary to meet the 2020 deadline.

"The number of complaints is still concerning", she said.

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The top complaints issues were charges and fees, at 38,594 complaints; provider response, at 36,563; poor service quality, at 18,936; connection/changing provider, at 13,844; no service, at 12,831; debt management, at 9,257; making a contract, at 7,003; in contract, at 5,628; equipment, at 2,957; and payments, at 2,398 complaints.

In addition, it said that 31 percent of complaints involve "more than one service type, indicating that the telecommunications landscape is very complex and that often issues can not be attributed to one single cause which may complicate resolution".

Unsurprisingly, NSW topped the complaints list at 27,000, followed by Victoria with 24,000.

"Industry - including service providers and NBN - are working intensely on a range of measures to improve the overall consumer experience".

The most dramatic rises came in Queensland, up almost 40% to 16,418 complaints, and Western Australia, up 36.5% to 7,381, compared to the second half of 2016.

Responding to claims by Telstra CEO Andy Penn that 5G will erode NBN's user base, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said the volume of data being downloaded over fixed broadband will prevent this.

The Australian competition watchdog has been chasing internet service providers who offer NBN plans that can't match the download speed that the service is capable of offering.

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