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NBN On Track For Milestones – But Complaints High

NBN Co claims it has hit all key metrics for its third quarter ended March 31, including full-year targets and its halfway milestone. But many observers say all is not all rosy: among other things, the number of complaints relating to the National Broadband Network has jumped more than 110 percent.

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman Judi Jones has revealed that 7512 NBN complaints were received between July and December – an increase of 117.5 percent on the same period in 2015 .

Jones has called for improved co-ordination between telcos and NBN Co to better serve customers. “There’s a lot of disruption in the market with the NBN and on top of that you have a greater demand from consumers and a lot of choice there,” she said. “People signing on to the NBN are looking at what service they are paying for – and if they change their provider there may be some hiccups.”

Independent telecoms analyst Paul Budde said the complaints are par for the course NBN Co has set.

“On the one side, the well-reported complaints about FttN will continue for as long as they roll this out, because of the unpredictability of the underlying copper network -– roughly an ongoing 20-25 percent problem rate,” Budde told CDN. “On the other side, in a process of changing over it is very understandable that complaints will rise, as there are so many little things that can go wrong.”

However, complaints or no-complaints, the broadband provider is trumpeting its total Q3 revenue of $665 million, up 142 percent from $275 million in the third quarter last year. Comparing the year-on-year results, NBN Co said it has doubled the footprint of the network and has activated more than one million new end-users over the past 12 months.

Budde said the result wasn’t easily achieved. “Obviously it is rather easy to double figures in such a period,” he told CDN. “It doesn’t really say anything about the underlying take-up rates and profitability which I like to leave to financial experts to delve into.”

Complaints against telcos by both consumers and businesses are on the rise, according to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman.

Residential consumers and small businesses made 65,970 complaints over landline, mobile or Internet services between July 1 and December 31 2016, the TIO has reported – though she didn’t say why she’d been so long reporting it.

The organisation’s Six Monthly Update found that complaints about customer service, billing and payments, faults and complaint handling were the most common.

Some 7512 NBN complaints were made between July and December compared to the same period in 2015 – an increase of 117.5 per cent.

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