NBN Complaints Increased 160 Per Cent This Year

NBN Complaints Increased 160 Per Cent This Year
Image: SMH / Adam Turner

The ramp-up of the nationwide NBN rollout means that more Australians are finally getting connected to the National Broadband Network. And that’s a good thing. But the telecommunications industry ombudsman’s bleak 2016-17 annual report shows that complaints about Australia’s internet have overtaken mobile phones in volume, and over 27,000 complaints about the performance of the NBN represent a 160 per cent rise versus the year past.

According to the TIO report, 27,195 complaints about “services delivered” on the NBN mean a jump of 159.3 per cent year on year. That’s 16,221 complaints about faults and 11,224 complaints about connection delays — 6.7 faults and 8.3 delays per 1000 activated premises.

TIO has been monitoring NBN rollout and complaint performance since 2013-14, and says that the widening rollout does correlate with the growth in complaints. To put the ramp of activated services in context, it took NBN five years to activate its first million premises, less than a year to hit the second million, and six months to hit the three million it currently has.

NBN’s response to the TIO has been, as per usual, to shift blame from itself to the ISPs delivering retail services to customers. NBN CEO Bill Morrow said that fewer than 15 per cent of complaints were directed to the network builder itself, accounting for around 1 per cent of the number of activated premises hooked up to the NBN.

NBN also blamed the ambitious scale of the project for its shortcomings. “It is important to note that no large scale construction project has ever been problem-free. With a workforce of close to 30,000 people digging trenches, hauling cable, climbing poles and going into people’s yards and homes, there are inevitably going to be some issues.”

Consumer advocacy group ACCAN is pushing for a customer service guarantee on internet services, in part to push NBN and internet providers to give customers timeframes for fixing faults and completing connections. Says deputy CEO Narelle Clark: “The complaint statistics show that many consumers are being left with no connection or a service that is completely unusable. This is not acceptable and it’s clear there is an urgent need for updated consumer guarantees. Considering the rollout of the NBN has reached scale and more consumers are making the switch, this must change.”

The government-run company behind the NBN rollout is working on advanced fault detection on its network to allow remote diagnosis of problems — whether they exist at the ISP level or with the network itself — and to allow better distribution of technicians to actual problems rather than those of a “turn it off and on again” variety. [TIO]


  • I’ve been waiting over 2 months for NBNco to visually inspect and give the sign off on the NBN pit outside my house before I can finally get my ISP to finish the setup. Whenever it comes to the remediation date they push it out 2 weeks.
    So I’m not surprised the level of complaints are so high.

  • I’m so glad I have a wireless connection through Nuskope in Adelaide. Almost 30mbps all the time and no drop outs. No need to connect to NBN at all. Yay!!

    • To Khrome (Adelaide),

      Are you saying if you have a wireless connection through your provider and no need for NBN? I have same with Virgin Mobile and they are not going to be involved with NBN. So am I correct that I can continue as normal? I’d love to hear more!

      • Two different things I think. I have a wireless broadband connection with a dish on the roof that receives the signal and goes through a modem. It has no connection with copper wires as does a normal ADSL or some NBN connections. Therefore I don’t have to switch to NBN. I think what you’re talking about is just your standard wifi through your phone provider. That also has nothing to do with the NBN.

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!