Slow speeds, drops outs plague Albury NBN users

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission called for volunteers for an Australia-wide broadband speed test program, amid complaints over NBN speed and under-delivery.

In April, Albury City revealed in a parliamentary submission more than 100 Albury City residents were left with slow line speeds, service drop outs and reliability issues.

But the council is not alone in their quarrels, with NBN customers five times more likely to complain about their service than a non-NBN user, as frustrations continue to surround the nation's biggest infrastructure project.

More than 13,406 complaints were made to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman about NBN services in the last financial year, which accounted for 11.9 per cent of all complaints received by the TIO, an increase from 5.4 per cent the year before.

Albury City Council told the joint standing committee a problem with the length of copper lines between the node and customer premises left customers with less than satisfactory services. 

“Where the NBN service has been activated in such circumstances, the customers will likely receive less than designated minimum line speeds, service drop outs, or reliability issues,” they said. 

“There has been no proactive customer notification processes, however we are aware the issue is affecting in excess of 100 households in Albury.

“Whilst we understand a solution addressing the issue has been developed, there is no indication as to when customers can expect a resolution.”

Source: Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman

Source: Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman

Teresa Corbin, CEO of the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) said clearer information was needed to differentiate between theoretical speeds and what could actually be achieved.

"An ACCAN survey conducted in 2016 found that nearly 70 per cent of respondents had unsatisfactory experiences with their broadband services," she said.

"The top reason given was slow speeds at some times of the day.”

"We believe that this shows that consumers need clearer information about broadband speeds.

"Currently, they rely on advertised speeds from retail service providers. These are often advertised using terms like 'speeds up to' which are confusing and do not reflect the actual speeds a consumer can expect from the service."

Telstra has begun contacting customers offering refunds and to downgrade plans where the advertised speeds are not being met, with retail group executive Kevin Russell admitting in a blog post that the speeds surrounding the network were "all a bit of a mystery".

A spokesman for NBN Co said it supported "any initiative that promotes transparency on retail speeds" available on its network and was working in collaboration with retail service providers "to help educate consumers and business owners".

- with The Age

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