NBN service complaints have more than doubled in a year with one expert warning that the government’s decision to charge users more for the service will only worsen consumers’ frustrations.
The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO)’s latest report revealed more than 65,000 complaints relating to telecommunications services from July to December 2016, leading to a 117.5 per cent annual increase in NBN criticism.
This comes days after the federal government’s announced a $7.10 levy on retail service providers that deliver fixed-line broadband, as part of the Regional Broadband Scheme.
The NBN levy could come into place by July if the bill is passed.
Internet Australia executive chair Anne Hurley, representing Australian internet users, told The New Daily that service providers were likely to pass on the cost to consumers, likely prompting even more complaints.
“I see the major impact will be in higher prices for the customers of the service providers who will incur the tax – hence, also discriminatory because it won’t be applied to all service providers,” she said.
“It’s completely contrary to what the NBN was intended to do – that is, the government providing infrastructure and broadband for the future.
“The level of discontent NBN customers are reporting is huge.”
One of the country’s most respected engineers, Melbourne University’s Professor Rodney Tucker, told The New Daily last month that the NBN rollout was “nothing short of a national tragedy“.
TIO Ombudsman Judi Jones said the majority of complaints overall focused on service, billing and the handling of complaints. NBN complaints, more specifically, mostly involved connections and slow data speeds.
Ms Hurley told The New Daily that “no other country” was currently rolling out fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) technology.
New South Wales resident David Rodriguez is one of many NBN customers who have filed complaints with the TIO. He has been connected to the NBN since November last year and uses the internet for work and gaming.
“I cannot believe they want to charge for a levy when they cannot offer the product that they want us to pay for,” he told The New Daily.
“NBN is terrible! My speeds are so slow, I was better off with ADSL.
“The government needs to sort this NBN out.”
Queensland IT worker Michael Moore said NBN has been available in his area for about one month and internet speeds have been “all over the place”.
He said initially he had speeds of about 35/18 for a plan that was pitched as 100/40. On Wednesday night, his speeds dropped to 12/18.
“The only way I’d be happy with [the NBN levy] is if they provided a quality service,” he told The New Daily. “At the end of it we’re left with a subpar network.”
NBN Chief Customer Officer John Simon said the company was working with retail service providers to improve processes, adding that the surge in complaints reflected more customers – 30,000 every week – being connected.
A Telstra spokesman said a “key driver of TIO complaints is the NBN”.
An Optus spokeswoman said it had identified NBN network congestion, delayed and rescheduled NBN appointments, and the migration of HFC customers to the NBN as “key areas” contributing to the increase in TIO complaints.