Teresa Corbin, Australian Communications Consumer Action Network CEO (ACCAN) has presented to the Joint Standing Committee (JSC) on the National Broadband Network in Sydney today with a raft of recommendations emphasising the need for improved service standards for satellite, fixed wireless, ADSL and copper legacy technologies for broadband services to regional, rural and remote areas of Australia. Her opening statement concerned the following issues:

SkyMuster services

SkyMuster services are now offered at similar prices to those in the NBN fixed line and fixed wireless footprints with significant increases in peak and off peak data allowances reflecting actual usage. This has been very welcome, however, uptake is slow and customers need to be informed of service availability and service options. Some customers in the satellite footprint are happy with ADSL and alternative fixed wireless providers and there is no incentive to switch. Pressing issues include managing data across peak and off peak times and the SkyMuster Fair Use Policy remains complex and confusing. Businesses in the SkyMuster footprint are still waiting for delivery of long-awaited business plans.

Fixed wireless

While ACCAN is hearing somepositive reports about NBN fixed wireless services, still significant congestion at network levels are affecting customers along the Eastern seaboard, Tasmania, Perth and Darwin. We are hearing from many customers who are frustrated by this experience.

‘We have concerns about poor customer relations from nbn about congestion and delayed upgrades and due to this lack of information, customers have tried switching providers and spending hundreds of dollars to have technicians advise them there is nothing they can do. There are no refunds in place for periods when service hasn’t performed at it should. Consumer confidence in the NBN is further eroded with RSP’s selling services in areas with congested towers.” added Ms Corbin.

Wholesale service standards

The fixed wireless situation shows why there is a need for NBN wholesale service standards. Significant increases in complaints to the TIO and failing services show existing arrangements are not working. Consumers should be compensated which a schedule of payments if standards are not met.

Future capacity of satellite and FW

ACCAN also has concerns about the ability for both the fixed wireless and satellite technologies to serve as the network Statutory Infrastructure Provider to all consumers in their current footprints. Without investment and reconfiguration, it is unlikely that either network could meet universal consumer needs now or into the future because they would not perform adequately if there was a higher take up rate.

Future of ADSL

Some consumers are falling through gaps between the current USO arrangements and Telstra’s commercial interests as it appears Telstra is removing the option of ADSL services and copper voice services in fixed wireless areas. The many communities on the fringe of the FTTN footprint using ADSL will suffer as NBN Satellite services are switched on and ADSL is phased out. The NBN alternative is a degradation of service to these customers.

“ACCAN is concerned that hundreds of thousands of households will lose services with the failure of NBN fixed wireless and satellite not meeting current broadband requirements. Removing ADSL further affects them with them relying on expensive mobile alternatives. It is imperative that the government take the lead on developing an ADSL Future Service Strategy which examines and addresses these issues. This must be done in consultation with consumers so that communities can have confidence in future broadband service delivery.”

Please visit the ACCAN website for a link to the submission at: https://accan.org.au/our-work/submissions/1501-nbn-rollout-in-rural-and-regional-areas

For more information, contact Martin James on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 0409 966 931.

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