Thousands of Australians are going without broadband internet and facing long waits for tech fixes as NBN Co battles issues on multiple fronts.
NBN Co’s new system for scheduling service appointments is continuing to cause headaches for internet users, as frustrated customers face service delays and cancellations, and rescheduled appointments at short notice.
The service issues stem from NBN Co’s transition to a new workforce scheduling system and mobile app for managing the completion of on-site work requests.
Problems with the new system “have led to increased wait times over recent weeks for many new connection and service appointments,” a spokesperson for NBN Co said.
As of May 30, NBN Co had additional pending orders for about 7900 new connections, and about 7700 service requests.
At the same time, customers who are eligible to connect to the NBN via hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC), one of the seven connection types that make up the multi-technology-mix network, are being forced to wait indefinitely for connection as NBN Co struggles to secure supply of necessary materials.
The firm has been holding meetings multiple times a week with increasingly fed-up retail service providers (RSPs) to address the ongoing issues.
TND understands NBN Co has indicated to internet retailers that service scheduling issues will not be resolved before July, while no date has been given for when HFC connections will be possible again.
Telcos slam NBN Co
Tens of thousands of internet users across the nation have been affected by NBN Co’s service and connection delays, and telcos have pinned the blame squarely on the monopoly broadband wholesaler.
“When NBN can’t connect one of our customers or provides our customer with poor service, our customer contacts us. Optus wears the costs and reputational impacts of NBN’s poor service,” an Optus spokesperson told TND.
About 4000 Optus customers have been affected by NBN Co’s service issues.
Optus’ vice president for regulatory and public affairs Andrew Sheridan said NBN Co’s new scheduling system is “not working” – and it’s the customers feeling the pain.
“Now, if Optus were in this situation, we would take a real focus on the customer and we would be rolling back to the old system, ensuring manual workarounds so minimum service levels are met and truly be accountable for our errors. NBN is not doing any of this,” Mr Sheridan said.
In a scathing statement, TPG Telecom group, which owns brands including Vodafone, TPG, and iiNet, said NBN Co’s actions to resolve customer service issues had yielded “little improvement” and to some degree, were making it worse.
In May, about 5500 customers across the TPG Telecom group were affected by NBN’s appointment scheduling issues, the firm said.
“We’re seeing little improvement in customer experience as a result of NBN’s actions to date and in many ways the situation is actually getting worse,” TPG Telecom group executive of legal and external affairs Trent Czinner said in a statement.
“In the last week of May, we saw an increase in the number of customers being inconvenienced by delayed NBN connections.
“As the monopoly provider, NBN needs to take full regulatory responsibility for this crisis as well as compensate for the financial losses RSPs have suffered due to its actions.”
NBN Co to compensate internet providers
NBN Co’s spokesperson said the firm had “advised internet retailers that it is continuing to improve its weekly performance on new connection and service assurance requests”.
“Last week it offered appointments for more than 87 per cent new connections requests within nine business days, and 83 per cent of service incidents within two business days,” the spokesperson said.
“The company acknowledges that too many appointments have been delayed or missed in recent weeks and it is working to address these issues as a priority and deliver better customer service.”
NBN Co also said it would be making “voluntary payments” of rebates to RSPs for customer connect orders and service requests affected by the issues stemming from its new work scheduling system.
Under the Wholesale Broadband Agreement, the firm is required to pay compensation to RSPs for missed appointments.
Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman Judi Jones urged NBN customers experiencing issues to contact their telco first, and follow up with TIO if needed.