ACCC Launching Inquiry Into NBN Wholesale Service

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has announced an inquiry into NBN wholesale standards that could ultimately benefit NBN broadband customers.

National Broadband Network inquiry
Image: janeb13

As we mentioned last week, a recent report from the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) indicated complaints relating to the NBN increased 160 per cent in the last financial year.

“We are very concerned about the high number of complaints from consumers around poor customer experiences, particularly in relation to customers connecting to NBN services and having faults repaired,” said ACCC Chairman Rod Sims.

Mr. Sims stated a large number of the complaints relate to matters set out in wholesale service level standards, which then flow on to the retail level.

As part of the inquiry, the ACCC will consider whether regulation is necessary to improve customer experience and to address issues concerning compensation claimed for customers when service standards are not met.

The ACCC states it may consider regulatory intervention through a binding rule of conduct, an interim access determination or a final access determination.

The Commission will release a discussion paper next month seeking feedback from interested stakeholders, including the public, and anticipates the inquiry will conclude in December 2018.

According to a Sydney Morning Herald article, NBN Co non-executive director Michael Malone says some of the woes affected NBN customers are experiencing are to be blamed on ISP's. He says providers are not provisioning enough bandwidth, leading to poor speeds.

In related news, the results of a Guardian Essential Poll released last week indicate just 23% of Australians surveyed believe the NBN will adequately meet Australia's future internet requirements. 52% stated they believed it wouldn't and 30% said they didn't know.

However, based on respondents with an NBN connection, 52% said the NBN was better than their previous service. 28% said it was about the same and 17% stated it was worse.

As for who is to blame for the current situation, 48% have pinned it on the Turnbull government, 19% on the previous Labor government and 42% weren't sure.

The NBN is certainly facing a number of challenges and battles - even from Australian native wildlife it seems. Cockatoos damaging spare power and fibre cables strung from NBN Co's fixed-wireless towers have so far cost it around $80,000 in repair bills. The company is hoping small UV-stable canisters encasing cable ends currently being installed keep the cockatoos at bay.

Posted: 5 Nov 2017

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