National broadband network operator NBN Co has conceded the Hunter Region has borne the brunt of teething problems with the Fibre to the Node (FTTN) rollout while promising to step up customer service.
Chief Customer Officer John Simon spoke to the Newcastle Herald in response to a wave of complaints from NBN customers in the Hunter Region, including slow internet speeds, long periods without any service while waiting for a changeover from ADSL, and unexpected landline disconnections.
While retail service providers have been to blame for some issues, Mr Simon said NBN acknowledged some responsibility for disconnections and delays in connection and said policies and practices had been reviewed to address the issues.
“On behalf of the company I apologise for any inconvenience,” he said.
“We want to make sure all end users get the right experience. The good news is the vast majority are getting that and you have our absolute commitment we will continue to drive these problems out.”
The Hunter has been one of the first areas to receive the FTTN rollout, accounting for 27,000 of the 57,000 connections nationally to date.
Mr Simon said NBN Co, in collaboration with retail service providers (RSPs), had implemented a new regime to despatch a technician to a disconnection site within 24 hours, regardless of whether it was an RSP or NBN problem.
He attributed some connection delays to people not receiving a modem quickly enough from their provider, or receiving the wrong type of modem, but four to five per cent of cases were related to the “jumpering” process used to convert customers from ADSL to the NBN.
Mr Simon said slow internet speeds were likely caused either by the provider not having enough capacity to service its customers or people having bought an unsuitable speed plan. He said people on a basic 12-megabit plan could only expect a service similar to their an ADSL connection.
“It is fair to say the providers were all a bit surprised by the demand in the Hunter, and some were caught short, but I’m pleased to say all those service providers who were short on capacity have upgraded and that issue should be radically diminished,” he said.
Mr Simon said line testing had shown the network was capable of delivering speeds above 50 megabits per second to 80 per cent of current FTTN users.
“So if someone is not getting the speed they want, it is probably more to do with their speed plan,” he said.
“Unless they are really seeing congestion at peak time, then they need to talk to their retail service provider.”