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Understanding the nbn™ network model

Australia is entering a new phase in the industry wide transformation of our telecommunications sector – one which needs everyone to have a far greater focus on consumers…

nbn and our Retail Service Providers care deeply about the experiences end-users are having on the nbn™ network – we do a lot of work to find out what kind of experiences people are having.

We evaluate and analyse third party independent surveys and our own internal metrics and from this, I can report that the majority of the 1.8 million end-users are happy with their broadband experience powered by the nbn™ network. This is whether it is having the service installed or using the network.

End user satisfaction score remains stable at around 7/10 and the Net Promoter Score continues to be positive. These scores are a reflection of both the service provider and nbn’s activities.

Dealing with unhappy end-users  

For the very important minority who don't have a good experience, we try to understand the root cause so both nbn and our RSPs can make the necessary improvements.

While the percentage dissatisfied is less than before, the absolute number grows with the higher volume of end users. The complaints to the TIO are a clear example of this.

Most reports said that nbn’s complaints increased by 120% in 2016, but not many of those reports mentioned that actually, as a proportion of end users, complaints had dropped by 12% — this is despite nbn through its RSPs connecting more than twice the number of end users compared to the year before.

Further to the industry challenge, many people don't realise the government-owned nbn™ network is only a small fraction of the end-to-end network that connects an end-user to their internet content or the other end of the telephone.

As an example, the nbn™ network might be just the last 10-15 kilometres, but the retailers have a far greater stretch of network that must be invested in and maintained to support the user experience. Failure to do so results in a reduction of speed, packet drop outs, or a call not going through.  

A complicated chain

Adding to the confusion is the fact that the process of having the service turned on, or the speed observed, or even the reliability of the end-to-end network is both the work of a chosen retailer and of nbn.

To be clear, we don't want anyone to have a negative experience, but some do and I would like to focus on them for a moment.

Many end-users are confused as to who does what and the industry — including us — must do a better job in providing that clarity.

In going through some of the customer complaints, it’s clear there is too much finger pointing and sometimes it is us and sometimes it is the retailer, but often the end-user feels like they get the run around. 

Ending the blame game

This is an industry-wide issue that cannot be fixed by nbn alone. Some retailers are taking strong action already and it shows in the end-user satisfaction scores.

For example, we have one retailer with very high scores and another at the other end of the scale, both using the same portion of the nbn™ network and the same nbn processes to activate a user.

This could be due to a number of factors that are in the hands of the retailer and end user.

Examples are the quality of the modem in the home, how much bandwidth the RSP has purchased from nbn, the size of their network that attaches to our POI, or even how much bandwidth they've purchased in overseas cables to access content from abroad.

We know end-users have a choice of access speed, and they equally have a choice of a service provider.

The service provider is more than a reseller of the nbn™ network and consumers must select carefully to match their needs to what these service providers offer.

To be frank, nbn has our own issues and we acknowledge them, own them, and are fixing them. We need to help more people understand who is responsible for which portions and what they can do to receive the best possible service.  

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Last updated on 31 March 2017

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