NBN Co moves to keep activations on track

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NBN Co moves to keep activations on track

Doubles down to meet its numbers.

NBN Co is set to employ new state-based managers to ensure the company doesn’t miss its service activation targets between now and 2020.

The network builder late Friday posted a series of advertisements for its “customer connections” unit.

Four of the roles are split by state or territory and appear to be aimed at keeping the company’s activation numbers on track by fixing problems experienced by “service delivery partners” involved in the build work. They cover all Australian states and territories.

Two further roles are for keeping remaining activation numbers on track in regional Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory.

These positions will similarly work with service delivery partners to “ensure that NBN Co manages tickets of work with partners to successfully complete FTTX and HFC orders to meet order volumes at the required time, cost and quality".

A general manager is also being sought for a program in customer connections, called Manage RSP.

The program is intended to 'reduce incoming volumes and minimise restoration times by partnering with RSPs to implement service assurance systems and processes which are fit for purpose'.

“This role will also be accountable for monitoring RSP performance and implementing corrective actions to address process gaps or failures,” NBN Co said.

“The problems are unique to each RSP and very close collaboration with each RSP is needed to drive the improvements.”

NBN Co said it hoped Manage RSP would “equip RSPs’ front of house teams with the skills and knowledge needed to assure NBN services".

NBN Co’s stated goal is to activate connections at eight million premises by the end of the rollout in 2020, which it needs in order to meet its revenue target of $5 billion.

The company has so far managed to keep on track with its activations but is heading into a crunch period for the build, in which technical and customer challenges could derail its plans.

It has put a six-to-nine month freeze on its HFC build and activations while it tries to sort out issues that prevent many existing HFC users from experiencing high speeds.

The size of the build has shrunk this year due to bad map data that the company has been relying on to identify premises, meaning it must activate proportionally more premises to meet its overall target.

There is also the increasing number of service class zero or equivalent premises that will take time for technicians to return to and fix.

Activations - particularly of the residential HFC network and forthcoming business services - are central to NBN Co being able to raise its average revenue per user (ARPU).

It has long projected hitting ARPU of $52 by the end of the build, but as that nears it has become increasingly unclear just how the network builder plans to make that happen.

NBN Co is known to have been working closely with its main RSPs to improve the way new services are activated.

Some of this work is to get NBN Co and RSPs on the same page in the sales and connection process, bridging a disconnect that has left end users unable to work out who is responsible for remediating problems.

Other work has focused on RSPs providing a greater degree of information upfront on how their NBN services perform, so end users can make informed choices. Optus and Aussie Broadband are leading on that front.

New pricing - expected to be launched as early as this week - could also encourage higher levels of activations and take-up, as some customers try to wait as long as possible to transition to NBN, fearing that they will be lumped with an inferior experience to what they have.

The company must, however, balance any new attempts to ramp up activations with other factors such as the customer experience.

It was forced to admit back in October that its expansion of customer service had not kept pace with activations, causing frustration levels to climb.

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