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One third of households disconnected during NBN switch: ACMA

More than 10 percent of those without phone or internet service during the move to the NBN are without access for over a month.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor
(Image: ACMA)

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has released its latest NBN consumer experience snapshot [PDF] ahead of the release of a full report later this year.

In creating the report, the ACMA interviewed 1,881 residential customers in November and December 2017, with the data weighted to represent those connected to the National Broadband Network in the last 12 months.

According to the ACMA, 34 percent of households had a period of disconnection from an existing service prior to being connected to the NBN.

Of the 539 respondents that were without an internet connection, 13 percent were disconnected for more than a month, 15 percent were without internet for two to four weeks, and 19 percent were disconnected for between one to two weeks.

For those disconnected for a week or less, 13 percent were offline for four to seven days, 22 percent for one to three days, and 17 percent were disconnected for less than a day.

The ACMA said 65 percent of respondents were told a "technical issue with installation" was the reason for the disconnection period.

Elsewhere in its snapshot, the ACMA said 45 percent of households did not know their NBN connection speed, and for those that knew, 11 percent were on plans up to 100Mbps, 8 percent on 50Mbps, 24 percent on 25Mbps, and 12 percent had purchased plans with up to 12Mbps speeds.

The cost of the plans in question sat at less than AU$60 per month for 22 percent of respondents, 28 percent paid between AU$61 and AU$80, a further 24 percent paid in the range of AU$81 to AU$100, and 16 percent paid over AU$100 per month for NBN connectivity -- 10 percent of respondents said they didn't know what they paid.

One third of households reported slow speeds on the NBN, the ACMA said, with 36 percent reporting slow evening speeds. Among those with slow evening speeds, a majority said it happened "often" or "very often".

In August last year, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) introduced a new NBN plan labelling system for retailers, based on evening speeds.

"The ACCC considers the prevailing practices of describing and promoting broadband plan speeds using ideal, theoretical, and non-busy conditions, and/or using ambiguous, RSP-specific descriptors of 'speed' should be discontinued," the ACCC said at the time.

The ACCC is set to publish the results of its AU$6.5 million NBN speed monitoring program this month. The program will run over four years and eventually cover 4,000 premises.

Earlier this week, the company responsible for deploying the National Broadband Network across Australia released a collection of statistics detailing its performance.

Its new dashboard shows that over the past year, individual lines on the network have consistently had a 1 percent failure rate -- starting at 0.9 percent, or 0.9 faults per 100 connections in February 2017, peaking at 1.2 percent in November, and falling to 1 percent for last month.

"This measure tracks individual service faults, not network related faults which are tracked separately," NBN said.

For the network availability metric, the company has fallen from 100 percent uptime last year, to 99.9 percent this year, which could potentially translate to around 44 minutes of downtime each month.

"Improving customer experience is our priority, and we've been working hard with retail providers and industry to identify causes and implement solutions for the factors we're responsible for," an NBN spokesperson told ZDNet on Thursday.

"We know there's work to do and have a strong program in place to achieve this."

Updated at 2.00pm AEDT, March 15, 2018: Added NBN comment.

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