Telco ombudsman records 204 per cent growth in NBN-related complaints

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

"Complaints about services delivered over the National Broadband Network continued to increase compared to the same six month period in 2016", said Ombudsman Judi Jones.

"Our industry can not be satisfied with these numbers and we will continue to implement measures - including through the enforceable Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code that is now being revised - created to improve the overall customer experience", Gillespie-Jones said.

Out of the 22,827 complaints, more than 14,000 were about the quality of the service and more than 8,000 about establishing a connection.

The TIO said that 30.8 per cent of the complaints it received in the second half of 2017 related to multiple services, while 28 were about Internet services and 29.4 per cent about mobile services.

She said recent changes to regulation and rules put in place to resolve complaints, including the consumer watchdog's enforceable undertakings, speed monitoring and NBN's move to temporarily slash the cost of top-tier internet speeds, are positive steps that will help improve the consumer experience.

NBN Co said that the total number of complaints made to the TIO about services delivered over its network equates to 0.67 per cent of total activated services on the NBN access network.

Six Monthly Update report revealed a 203.0 per cent increase in complaints received about the services compared to the same period in 2016.

Overall, as iTWire has reported, the TIO received 84,914 complaints during the second half of 2017, up 28.7% on the year-ago period.

"Not only are more people starting to experience the benefits of connecting to high speed plans but our work with industry continues to deliver a world class network performance as the average network bandwidth congestion per Australian home is consistently sitting below 30 minutes per week compared with more than six hours per week this time a year ago".

"While the slowdown in the rate of complaints is encouraging, NBN Co acknowledges there is still more work to be done, particularly at this critical stage of the rollout as we balance prioritising customer experience without taking our foot off the construction pedal", he said.

NBN earlier this month announced it would end a freeze on sales of hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) services.

A total of 84,914 complaints were received by the TIO from July to December previous year.

NBN Co backed this up with a breakout of the 22,827 complaint number for the back half of 2017.

Ms Jones said most of those complaints were about charges and fees and provider responses and services but weather conditions in these regions also contributed to the climb.

Complaints were predominantly from residential consumers at 74,729 complaints, or 88 percent of the total.

Given consumer complaints about the NBN, fixed line and mobile services are all on the rise, with nearly 85,000 complaints recorded in total over the reporting period, the Turnbull government has produced terms of reference for a review into current consumer safeguards in the telecommunications sector.

It said the 31% share of complaints involving more than one service type indicated that the telecommunications landscape was very complex and that often issues could not be attributed to a single cause, complicating the process of resolution.

"The telecommunications industry in Australia continues to experience significant change. Additionally, the wider issues relating to phone or internet problems such as debt management are concerning".

By state, Queensland saw the highest growth in complaints, increasing 39.3 percent to 16,418, followed by 36.5 percent in Western Australia with 7381 complaints.

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