The company behind the rollout of Australia's National Broadband Network (NBN), nbn, has set up a dedicated national team to help improve customer experience in rural and regional areas, but it remains to be seen if it will make things easier for local resellers.
The so-called 'nbn local’ team will be headed up by general manager, Peter Gurney, and will be focused on educating residents and businesses about the status of the nbn access network, what they need to do to connect and their switching options.
The national team will also spend time in regional locations to understand community needs and have access to an extended team of network engineers and deployment specialists located in key regional hubs to help identify and resolve issues promptly.
“The creation of the nbn local team is another step in our ongoing commitment to improve the customer experience with the nbn access network," Gurney said.
"We’ll be providing dedicated resources who understand the needs and issues of local communities around the country from Cairns in Far North Queensland to Traralgon in Gippsland to Alice Springs in the Northern Territory.
"Although retail service providers [RSPs] should always be the first point of contact for any resident or business having issues with their broadband connection, the new nbn local team will be dedicated to working with local stakeholders and community groups to help ensure local problems are identified early and addressed.”
For David Moore, founder of Tasmanian-based IT support business, I Hate My PC, nbn's new plan sounds promising but, to date, he said he hasn’t seen much action from nbn, leaving his customers frustrated by trying to deal with both the network provider and local internet service providers (ISPs) reselling the network - both of which seem to blame each other when customer issues arise.
“I have one medium-sized business that has been offline for over three weeks now because they converted to FttN [fibre-to-the-node] NBN and it didn't work,” Moore said.
“Neither nbn nor Telstra can fix the problem. It took an epic phone call and an ongoing battle to even get someone back to the premises to address the issue.
“Now, believe it or not, the proposed solution to my customer's problem is, 'we can roll you back to ADSL'," he said. "Unsurprisingly that hasn't happened either."
This customer in question was Huon Valley Dental Care, which has been a Telstra customer since 2013, so upgrading to the NBN sounded simple enough, but it was a decision that practice manager, Jane Cameron-Carr, regretted as issues arose, according to an article in local media outlet, The Mercury.
Two days after switching to the NBN, the company’s phone lines and internet went down, also impacting its payment systems, and more than three weeks later, it was still dealing between Telstra and nbn, to try to resolve its connection issues.
Both companies were blaming each other for the connection problems that the Huon Valley Dental Care was experiencing.
Moore said that the business and money that his customer has lost as a result of this, has been disturbing.
“While nbn says a lot of things that sound like they may be addressing exactly what I am describing. What I am not seeing is what the ISPs are going to do about it?,” Moore stated.
“nbn has been persisting positioning themselves as 'just the wholesaler' and telling everyone, 'talk to your ISP' about getting connected. Are they holding the hands of ISPs to do the job that they are supposed to be doing?”
“I wish I didn't have to be cynical but so far the evidence I have on the ground is that my cynicism has always proven valid," he said.