nbn chief, Bill Morrow, has played down suggestions the company should “name and shame” network retail service providers (RSPs) that deliver slower-than-expected connection speeds to consumers.
“Most of the issues that we hear about, or concerns or complaints with their fast broadband service, has to do with their [customers’] expectations of what they thought they were going to get, versus what they've signed up for,” Morrow told ABC Radio’s Sabra Lane on 28 July.
“We work with the telephone and the internet companies to be sure that it's an end-to-end seamless solution but it doesn't always go that way.
“And so we know some people aren't getting the service that they need and that they deserve and we're working on the improvements for that,” he said.
Morrow’s comments come as National Broadband Network (NBN) RSPs come under mounting scrutiny over the network connection speeds they deliver to consumers, versus the speeds promised.
In November last year, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) revealed that speed was the “biggest problem” with internet services, and that new complaints about internet services in general, rose by 22 per cent – to the highest level in five years.
"New complaints about internet data speed increased by 48 per cent,” Australia’s Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman, Judi Jones, said. “Consumers also made an increased number of complaints about long waits for connections and repairing unreliable services."
While the complaints tally referred to internet services in general, the rise in complaints come as more and more Australians connect to the NBN, with the rollout hitting its halfway mark in early July.
Morrow reiterated the assertion that many of the speed-related complaints arising from new NBN connections appear to emerge largely as a result of poor transparency or communications by the RSPs around the different speed tiers and what consumers are signing up for.
This is resulting in some customers receiving far slower speeds with the NBN products they purchase from RSPs than expected.
NBN speed issues are further exacerbated by criticism from some quarters that many RSPs are not purchasing enough bandwidth to deliver the speeds they are promising consumers.
At the same time, other critics claim that nbn’s current pricing structure can make it difficult for RSPs to buy adequate bandwidth in a cost-effective manner. Without adequate bandwidth, the “up to” speeds offered are sometimes difficult to attain.
Asked whether nbn should make an example of RSPs delivering slower speeds than those promised via a "name and shame" website, Morrow said: “that just obviously is bad business”.
“These telephone and internet companies are our customers,” he said. “The other thing that I would say is that part of the model that was designed back in 2009 was that each individual telephone and internet company can come up with a different plan.”
While Morrow doesn’t want nbn to get RSPs offside with a “name and shame” approach, the Australian competition watchdog appears to have no problem with the prospect of publicly naming poor broadband performers.
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