Wednesday, 10 July 2019 11:13

Mobile services record low rate of consumer complaints, voice-only services over NBN not so good: ACMA Featured

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Mobile services have fared best with a low rate of consumer complaints in stark contrast to voice only services delivered by telcos over the NBN which had the highest rate of complaints over a six month period last year, according to a report by the telecommunications regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

The latest telecommunications handling report from the ACMA, reveals that mobile services, over the six months from July to December in 2018, had the lowest rate of consumers complaints despite having the highest number 30.1 million of services in operation.

In contrast, over the period from July to December 2018, voice-only services delivered by telcos over the NBN, using VoIP technology, had the lowest number of services in operation 275,753 but the highest rate of complaints.

“We will be analysing complaints data to consider whether there are areas needing stronger industry action or regulatory rules,” said ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin.

“The high level of complaints reported for voice-only services delivered by telcos over the NBN is of real concern as they are critical to the most vulnerable in our community.

“The ACMA will be taking a close interest in efforts by telcos to deal with the cause of these complaints.”

In response to the ACMA report, NBN Co, which is building the national broadband network, said it had made “significant investments to work with the telco industry to improve customer experience and we are starting to see the early signs of that”.

In a statement issued to iTWire, a spokesperson for NBN Co said, “we are committed to doing our part to work with internet and phone providers to help improve the customer service experience of consumers and businesses migrating and connecting to the NBN access network.

“As the ACMA report notes, the rate of complaints about broadband services delivered by telcos over the NBN is 40 percent lower than for services delivered over non-NBN networks.

“We look forward to continued engagement with the ACMA and our industry partners in doing our part to help reduce the level of complaints.”

O’Loughlin says ACMA's complaints report is the “very first time information about complaints made by customers directly to their telco has been collated by the ACMA”, adding that, “this report shines further light into the telco industry’s handling of the problems their customers are facing”.

Other key findings by the ACMA included:

  • the rate of complaints about broadband services delivered by telcos over the NBN is 40% lower than for services delivered over non-NBN networks.
  • the highest rate of complaints about broadband services delivered by telcos over the NBN involved the new fibre-to-the-curb technology. However this high rate of complaints was attributable to only a few of the telcos that provided data to the ACMA.
  • the median number of days telcos take to resolve a complaint is six (telcos have a maximum of 15 days to propose a resolution to a complaint).
  • total complaints to telcos increased in the December quarter, while the proportion of complaints referred to telcos for resolution by the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman is down.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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