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NBN customers complain about connection issues

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman saw connection complaints make up 44.8 percent of all NBN-related complaints between January and March 2015.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor

Australia's Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) has reported that it received 1,635 National Broadband Network (NBN)-related new complaints in January to March 2015, a 15.6 percent increase compared to the previous quarter.

According to the TIO, the increase reflects the number of NBN activated premises growing by 21.3 percent to 391,107 in the same period. Of the NBN-related complaints, connection complaints continued to be the most common issue, making up 44.8 percent.

However, in the NBN's defence, the number of NBN-related complaints accounted for fewer than 5 percent of all telecommunications-related complaints during the quarter.

An NBN spokesperson told ZDNet that it is only natural that as the network grows in size, there would be an increase in the quantum of issues reported.

"The customer is at the heart of everything we do. We will continue to work with RSPs [retail service providers] -- who retail our network to consumers -- to continue to improve service levels and customer satisfaction," the spokesperson said.

The company has for years faced issues with long waits for customers wanting to get connected to the National Broadband Network.

ZDNet asked NBN over one month ago to provide statistics on the average wait time for customers who have applied to be connected to the NBN, as well as the number of appointments they had to make before finally being connected. However, NBN has so far not been able to provide any information.

The TIO also reported that there were 33,141 new total complaints during the quarter, a 12.1 percent increase from the previous quarter. However, in comparison to the same quarter in 2014, the number of new complaints reduced by 8.6 percent.

"We received an increase in new complaints this quarter, but this is in the context of the continuing decrease in new complaints year on year," Ombudsman Simon Cohen said.

During the quarter, the TIO recorded that complaints about internet services rose to the second-highest number of quarterly complaints recorded in four years: 8,740 new complaints were made about internet services, a 27.7 percent increase from the October to December quarter, and a 3.8 percent rise from January to March 2014. Quarter on quarter, new complaints about fully unusable services were up 45.7 percent, from 1,249 to 1,820, while new complaints about delays in connecting new internet services were up 41.5 percent, from 992 to 1,404.

The TIO also reported that landline complaints were up during this quarter. The TIO said it received 9,305 new landline complaints, the highest quarterly number recorded in two years. This is 16.7 percent up from October to December 2014, and 4.3 percent more than in the same period last year. Quarter on quarter, 1,501 new complaints were about fully unusable landline services. This was up 37 percent from 1,096, while new complaints about delays in connecting new landline services were up 13.3 percent, from 1,011 to 1,145.

In contrast, complaints about mobile services were 20 percent fewer than the same time in 2014-15, despite being marginally higher when compared to the previous quarter.

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