Tuesday, 15 August 2017 12:04

Rules prevent FttN users from complaining about speeds

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NBN customers who are on fibre-to-the-node connections are unable to lodge a fault with the company in charge of the broadband rollout about slow speeds unless the download speed falls below 12Mbps.

Business rules to this effect prevent customers from complaining and the Labor Party says there is concern that these arrangements are minimising the FttN workload for NBN Co.

According to the NBN Co chief executive Bill Morrow, the speeds are limited by the co-existence of copper.

Consumers have 18 months to switch once their premises are declared NBN-ready and during this window no action will be taken by NBN Co to effect any remedy.

According to an answer to a question on notice put to Morrow during Senate estimates, "co-existence profile settings... reduce performance to prevent interference with legacy services during the 18-month migration window".

It adds: "Where the network is not capable of providing the minimum wholesale download speeds after coexistence has ended, NBN Co will take action to rectify any issues so that minimum standards are met."

Communications Minister Mitch Fifield was asked about this by Senator Deborah O'Neill yesterday.

“Given retail providers say NBN refuses to investigate problems where the line speed is not below 12 megabits per second, what advice does the Minister have for Australians on the copper NBN who are paying for 50 megabits per second, but can only receive a maximum of 14 megabits per second?” she asked. 

Senator Fifield replied: "“There can be a range of reasons why a consumer is receiving speeds lower than they expect. It can be the case of in house wiring. It can be a case of the modem that individual has. It can be a function of the amount of capacity a retailer purchases.”

To which Senator O'Neill came back with: "“Given the Turnbull Government has set a minimum service level of 25 megabits per second in its Statement of Expectations, What is the minister doing to ensure Australians with a copper line speed below 25Mbps can have their NBN problems investigated in a fair and transparent manner?”

Fifield replied: “Where consumers believe their retailer has not provisioned their service as they should, then that is a serious matter – and that is an area where we expect the ACCC to investigate.”

Shadow communications spokesperson Michelle Rowland said Senator Fifield's comments indicated he was out of touch with the lived frustrations ofconsumers and their retail providers.

"It is concerning that there may be many legitimate copper faults which the Turnbull Government is sweeping under the rug," she said.

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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