Approximately one in two Australians have had an issue with their phone or internet service, equating to about 10 million people, the country’s Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TOI), Judi Jones, has revealed.
In a speech at the local telecommunications industry’s Comms Day Summit event in Sydney on 9 April, Jones noted that 20 per cent of Australia’s residential consumers had more than one phone or internet issue over the last year, and one in four issues were not resolved after four months.
For small businesses, meanwhile, the rate is higher, with almost 60 per cent identifying a phone or internet issue affecting their business.
"Today's results show us that everyone with responsibility for planning and delivering telecommunications service has to make things better,” Jones said. “Phone and the internet services are essential services, making a vital difference to families, within communities and to business.
"We all have to be proactive and accessible in managing the issues. We have to listen to residential consumers and small businesses, understand the impact of problems, and offer quick, supportive solutions.”
The figures come as the TIO prepares to introduce its first comprehensive industry survey for 2018, after surveying almost 3000 people from across Australia’s residential consumers and small businesses.
The Ombudsman’s next six month update, which provides key data on complaints from residential consumers and small businesses to the TIO for the period 1 July -31 December 2017, will be released on 17 April.
The TIO, which provides an independent dispute resolution service for small business and residential customers who have a complaint about their telephone or internet service, released its Annual Report 2016/17 on 18 October last year.
For the first time ever, complaints about internet services in Australia were higher than complaints about mobile phones.
Specifically, the TIO said that complaints about services delivered via the National Broadband Network (NBN) increased by more than 100 per cent compared to 2015/16, which includes an increase in complaints about connection delays and reliability issues, such as faults.
Altogether, 27,195 complaints were recorded about services delivered over the NBN, a year on year increase of 159.3 per cent.
Moreover, 16,221 complaints were recorded about faults in services delivered over the national broadband network, representing 6.7 fault complaints per 1,000 premises activated.
Meanwhile, complaints to the TIO by Australians about their telecommunications services rose by more than a third in the six months ending December 2016, with the TIO stressing at the tinme that the rate of increase in NBN-related complaints was slower than the rate of increase in the number of new premises connected to the NBN.
The latest figures will come as NBN Co, the company behind the rollout of the NBN, talks up the limited release of services delivered via its new fibre-to-the-curb (FttC) network to more than 1,000 homes and businesses in Coburg, North Melbourne in Victoria and Miranda, South Sydney in New South Wales.
NBN Co first revealed the FttC services had become available to the two regions in NSW and Victoria on 29 March. On 9 April, Minister for Communications Senator, Mitch Fifield, was onsite in Miranda, NSW, for the official launch.
“Fibre to the curb is the latest technology to be used in the NBN rollout, and over the next few years one million premises around the country will be connected to high-speed broadband using FTTC,” Fifield said in a statement.
“FTTC can deliver the same 100Mbps speeds as fibre-to-the-premise (FttP) technology but at lower cost, in much less time and with far less disruption to people's property,” he said.
Fifield said that, at the moment, the best estimate is that it will be about one million premises nationwide that will benefit from the new technology, but that this figure could "change at the margins" as the rollout progresses.