NBN Co had a meeting with retail service providers (RSPs) today to address the ongoing issues with its workforce scheduling system, which has resulted in delayed installations as well as technician strikes.
NBN Co is having problems with its workforce scheduling system
The meeting was first reported by Communications Day and followed an apology by NBN to the thousands of customers who have been impacted by the ailing system.
The new system was implemented in order to manage workforce operations and customer appointments. It also included a mobile app for managing and logging the completion of jobs.
But according to NBN Co technicians, there have been problems.
It is Gizmodo Australia’s understanding that the app has been known to take a long time for a booking to be marked as complete. Meanwhile, technicians are unable to move onto the next job until this happens.
This has resulted in contractors being unable to get enough paid jobs and customers having to wait extended periods for service.
This is part of the reason why several NBN technician strikes have occurred over the past two weeks.
“The NBN rollout has been plagued with issues from day one, and workers won’t put up with it any longer. NBN Co needs to scrap their dodgy pyramid contracting model, improve pay rates and ditch the shonky booking app,” Communications Union National President, Shane Murphy, said in early May.
NBN Co speaks up
On the same day as Murphy’s comments, NBN Co told us that the app had been improved.
“We have significantly improved the app over the last few weeks to address functionality, system performance and general user experience pain-points, and will continue to modify and enhance the app in the next two weeks.” NBN Co said to Gizmodo Australia in an email on May 3.
But the issues have continued.
NBN Co has now told us that while the rollout of the system apparently went well in South Australia and Tasmania, there have been issues in New South Wales and Victoria.
Consequently, NBN Co has paused the rollout in Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory.
“These issues have impacted appointments for new customer connections and service orders to rectify any faults for existing customers at residential and business premises,” NBN Co said in an email to Gizmodo Australia.
“We have been keeping our delivery partners and internet retailers informed of these issues and our progress to resolve them.”
NBN Co also said that it is prioritising the booking appointments of medically vulnerable customers as well as new customers over new connection requests.
“In addition, teams across NBN Co are working around the clock to rectify the outstanding issues with its workforce management system and accompanying mobile application that is used by field technicians,” NBN Co said.
What Telstra and Aussie Broadband have to say
Both Aussie Broadband and Telstra were part of the meeting with NBN co this week. While we don’t know the particulars of what was discussed, the RSP’s are concerned about the impact the booking system is having on their customer connections.
“NBN Co is clearly struggling with some service issues and this is having a severe impact on our customers’ experience, leading to long connection delays and missed appointments,” a Telstra spokesperson said in an email to Gizmodo Australia.
“It’s an absolute priority for them to fix this quickly, and in the meantime we’re working closely with them to get our customers connected as quickly as possible.”
Aussie Broadband was less diplomatic, revealing that NBN Co wouldn’t give the RSPs a timeline for the booking system to be fixed.
“We’re very underwhelmed with the NBN briefing to RSPs today,” an Aussie Broadband spokesperson said in an email to Gizmodo Australia.
“We acknowledge and appreciate the apology from NBN about the situation, however we’re extremely disappointed that they would not commit to a timeline for resolution.
“It’s taken weeks for us to get to this point and without any guideline, we’ve got to assume that this is going to take weeks to fix. They’ve also announced they will delay the HFC restart, which is disappointing but we support that decision while these connect and assurance issues remain.”
Aussie Broadband also said that it has a significant number of orders it can’t submit, despite NBN Co saying there are extra appointments available in the system.
“To be frank, this is totally unacceptable. We need a realistic timeline,” the Aussie Broadband spokesperson said.