NBN boss Bill Morrow has called for patience as the company rolling out the National Broadband Network looks to improve the service for the 15 per cent of end users unhappy with their connections.
Speaking at a business lunch on Monday hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce, Mr Morrow said the level of dissatisfaction, while significant, didn’t paint the full picture.
“Our own independently conducted research shows that 85 per cent of those on the NBN say that their connection is much better than they expected,” he said. “It’s the other 15 per cent that bothers me. That figure is still too high, but it’s clear that while there is a lot of noise in the media from unhappy end users that these are very much in the minority.”
A pick-up in the pace of the NBN rollout has left many end users caught in the crossfire between NBN Co and the retail service providers as they relinquish their existing broadband services to move to the NBN. While Mr Morrow maintains that the telecoms industry and NBN Co are working co-operatively on the issue, the telcos have made no secret of the fact that the NBN was the number one source of complaint from their customers.
Earlier this month, Telstra confessed that up to 10,000 of its customers were not receiving the NBN speeds they had signed up for. Meanwhile, Optus boss Allen Lew said last week that the NBN was a key driver of customer complaints.
Speaking to Melbourne radio station 3AW before his speech, Mr Morrow said the scale of the NBN was unprecedented globally and the disruption it delivers to the industry has led to a level of consumer confusion.
However, he’s confident that the problems can be ironed out over time.
“This is an industry-wide transformation like no other project ever undertaken before,” he said. “Virtually taking 11 million homes and converting them onto a new infrastructure, and we are trying to do that at record pace and least possible cost, so there are bound to be issues.
“We are starting to see green shoots of improvement but it will take us a bit to get there.”
He has, however, categorically ruled out any prospect of NBN Co playing a central role in addressing customer complaints.
“If we take care of all of the calls … we don’t have access to the information for each of the end users, if it’s a billing problem or its service-related problem that has nothing to do with the (wholesale) access network that we produce, then we are again left with giving the end user a poor service,” he told 3AW.
While NBN Co’s critics maintain that its technology pathway will leave the NBN compromised, Mr Morrow said the fibre versus copper debate was moot at this point and the focus should shift to maximising the transformative potential of the network.
“The real benefits of the NBN — of universal, high-speed connectivity — won’t magically materialise,” he said.
“They need to be created and, in some cases, they will take many years to realise.”
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