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The NBN provides the wires that deliver broadband and fixed phone services to your home. Your telco pays the NBN owner, nbn co, to use the NBN and sell you broadband. This means that the service that you get from your telco is directly related to the service that nbn co gives telcos. This includes how long it takes to connect broadband customers, whether appointments with technicians are kept, the number and length of outages you may experience, or the speed of your broadband at different times of day.

The service nbn co provides is negotiated with telcos and contained in commercial contracts. This means that the telco regulator, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), has not been involved. Many telcos have stated that the variable service that they receive from nbn co makes it difficult to make commitments to customers regarding the expectations for service. This is understandably frustrating both for telcos and for consumers who are left wondering who is to blame when their NBN service is sub-par. ACCAN has argued again and again that the regulator (ACCC) needs to be involved to make sure that nbn co and telcos provide a high-quality, reliable service for consumers.

In late 2017 the ACCC started looking into whether nbn co’s service is adequate. The ACCC wanted to find out if regulation would improve outcomes for consumers. Since the ACCC began the inquiry, nbn co has committed to a number of changes. These include providing refunds to telcos when a technician does not turn up to an appointment and compensation for delayed connections. However, many telcos, as well as ACCAN, have asked for more commitments from nbn co. In particular, we would like to see compensation for delayed connections calculated for each day it is late (as opposed to a flat rate). ACCAN’s position is that there needs to be benchmarks for service with penalties for failures in order to motivate nbn co to provide reliable services.

The ACCC is expected to make a decision on whether regulation is necessary before the end of the year.