Home Telecoms & NBN NBN under pressure to maintain pace as connections hit 3 million mark
NBN under pressure to maintain pace as connections hit 3 million mark Featured

The pace of the national broadband network rollout has picked up as connections hit the three million mark, but with the operator, NBN Co, cautioning that the increase in connections and activations presents new customer connection and experience issues.  

NBN Co’s chief network engineering Peter Ryan says that while three million connections have now been completed at a rate of more than 40,000 premises every week — and one million activations in the last six months alone — the increase has put extra pressure on the “customer service experience”.

“We know the vast majority of NBN access network users are connected without an issue and go on to have a great experience on the network but, unfortunately, that’s not the case for everybody,” Ryan says.

“Indeed, in some respects the speed of the build is one of the key reasons behind some of the challenges we’re facing in terms of customer experience.

“When NBN Co was activating around 3000 to 4000 premises per week across the country — which was pretty much the case until mid-2016 when our FttN activations really kicked in — activation issues could be easily managed.

“Fast forward to now and we’re regularly activating more than 40,000 premises every week, which means we’re pretty much activating a city the size of Canberra every single month. This huge increase naturally puts pressure on the customer service experience.”

But, while admitting there are customer issues to be dealt with, Ryan says the “good news” is that NBN Co is “already hard at work doing what we can to improve the connection experience and the online experience once people are connected”.

He says that in terms of getting customers connected, NBN Co is now focused on what it calls “aged tickets” within the NBN system – or customers who’ve been waiting too long to connect to the NBN access network.

“Aged tickets happen when something out of the ordinary occurs that means we cannot connect the premises to the NBN access network. It can be something as crazy as an unclaimed car being left for months right on the exact spot where we need to conduct some civil works. Yes, really,” he notes.

But according to Ryan, NBN Co is “now working flat out to resolve aged tickets older than four weeks out of the system".

“We want these premises connected to the network as soon as possible,” he says.

“At the same time, we’re also turning our attention to making sure that these aged tickets don’t appear in the first place by working with our delivery partners and Internet providers to ensure we’re all properly aligned in the activations process and know exactly what is going on with each premises.

"Our ultimate aim is to stop customers getting ‘ping-ponged’ between NBN and RSPs to solve a problem – we know this has to stop.”


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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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