With the nationwide rollout half over, NBN and its cohorts finally concede they need to do more to help Australians trapped in broadband hell.
NBN and internet retailers play the broadband blame game when it comes to real-world download speeds, but there's also a major accountability gap between NBN, the retailers and the government when it comes to dealing with connection faults and delays. This lack of accountability has left some Australian homes and businesses without fixed-line broadband or phones for months at a time.
NBN and the retailers point the finger at each other, while complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Australian Communications and Media Authority, and Communications Minister Mitch Fifield all fail to cut through the red tape. Australians like Scott Moffat can testify to this, as one of many people whose NBN nightmare was only resolved after investigations by Fairfax Media.
The telco industry's band of usual suspects have finally sat around a table this week and publicly admitted they need to do better. They committed to tackling the key NBN migration issues for consumers including confusing information, handballing customer complaints, lead times for connections and rescheduled appointments.
Other commitments include:
- Joint industry support for NBN's process improvement initiatives under the multi-pronged 'Focus on Customer Experience' project
- More useful and practical information for consumers to explain how to connect to the NBN and what to do if services aren't meeting expectations
- Contractual changes to support appointment-keeping, installation completions and complaint handling
They say admitting you have a problem is the first step on the road to recovery, but it remains to be seen whether this new-found "Focus on Customer Experience" translates into action considering that complaints have fallen on deaf ears for so long.
We're already seen a revised telecommunications industry guide setting out the roles and responsibilities of all parties in delivering a smooth transition to an NBN-based service. Even so, the ACCC and ACMA can't confirm whether their efforts will include addressing the Catch-22 Cease Sale regulations which have left some homes in limbo – preventing them from going back to legacy broadband services while they await NBN repairs.
After this week's round table, a Ministerial CEO forum will report to the government on progress within three months, but heads should roll over the fact that all involved were prepared to pass the buck on these issues for years.
How has the NBN rollout progressed in your area? How could all involved do better?