Complaints Roll In Faster Than NBN Rollout

19:04' 24-10-2017
The Federal Government has often expressed satisfaction at the speed of the rollout of the NBN. In July, for instance, Minister for Regional Communications Fiona Nash excitedly announced that NBN services to regional, rural and remote premises were close to 80% completion.
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    Kết quả hình ảnh cho NBN Rollout

    Photo: news.com.au

    With the rollout of services, however, internet users have been a lot less enthusiastic. In the 2016-17 financial year, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) received 27,195 complaints, an increase of 160% over the previous year.

    Nearly 10,000 homes were left without useable internet or landline during that time, and nearly 4,000 complaints were made about slow data speeds. Ombudsman Judi Jones calls it “a worrying sign”, with dissatisfied consumers outstripping the rate of rollout. In the first half of this year, reports of NBN problems quadrupled.

    NBN chief Bill Morrow says NBN Co may never make a profit, and may need a government subsidy to get by. He has also suggested mobile broadband users could pay a levy to help fund the roll-out.   

    It casts a large shadow over the Government's proud boast that 3 million Australians are now connected to fast and affordable high-speed broadband, with about 40,000 connections completed each week.

    The situation is serious enough that last week Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had to speak out in defence of the NBN. Mr Turnbull said many problems with the NBN arose from the way it was designed under the previous Labor Government. As Minister of Communications in Tony Abbott's Government, it was largely his job to repair what he calls “a calamitous train wreck”. 

    Former Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd disagrees, claiming that the current problems result from changes to the system made by the Abbott and Turnbull Governments. Labor's fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) plan, costing $84 billion, was replaced by the cheaper fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) plan, at the lower cost of $56 billion.

    Technical analysts are critical of FTTN. RMIT School of Engineering associate professor Mark Gregory is not alone in his claim that it is obsolete technology. Ashley Schram of ANU says FTTN will incur greater ongoing maintenance costs, such as replacing degraded copper wiring and supplying electrical power. Professor Rod Tucker of Melbourne University says rising demand for service means the entire network may need an upgrade to FTTP in the future. 

    NBN's Bill Morrow agrees that high-speed fibre connections are superior to the copper and cable linking most Australians to the new network. He also admitted to ABC's Four Corners program that the fast pace of the rollout has “led to compromises”, with the result that some customers were getting left behind.

    Mark Gregory believes Australia would be better to follow the model used in the UK and new Zealand. Instead of creating a new company (NBN Co) to roll out the NBN, split Telstra into two arms, with one arm taking responsibility for the NBN. That would now require an expensive backward step, but it might save the situation.

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Keywords: federal governmentfiona nashnbn

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