NBN Co has beefed up its field force to overcome a backlog of stalled orders caused by technical problems and contractors missing appointments for last-mile connections to NBN services.
The company has initiated a program to bring down the number of 'held orders' on its books - installations for customer NBN services that weren’t completed on the first try, causing them to be 'held', or left in limbo.
Pouring resources into reducing the backlog is expected to have a significant impact on NBN Co's reported activation numbers.
In recent updates sent by NBN Co to access seekers, sighted by iTnews, NBN Co said it was concentrating on reducing the amount of held orders in specific connectivity serving areas (CSAs) by boosting its field resources.
“By focusing resources on the reduction of the held order backlog, we understand there will be a decrease in new appointment capacity and an increase in current appointment lead times in these specific CSAs,” it told access seekers.
“To offset this, we will continue to identify additional resourcing to meet demand in CSAs where the lead times are extending beyond ten business days.”
An NBN Co spokesperson told iTnews the company was "continuing to focus" on meeting customer appointments. It declined to provide detail on the number of extra staff assigned to the task.
“Some customer installations have not been completed at the first attempt due to a local issue in physically connecting fibre from the street into the home,” the spokesperson said.
“We have implemented a program which prioritises customer orders that did not complete at first attempt, and those with orders within the first 15 regions scheduled to be disconnected from the copper network on 23 May 2014."
NBN Co told access seekers it had reduced held order volumes by up to 4 percent in 11 CSAs across NSW, Queensland, Tasmania and Victoria in January.
But Victoria, SA, WA and the Northern Territory are suffering higher levels of increased held order volumes, NBN Co said in the communications, due to “complex deliveries in new areas that have recently been made live”.
The issue of where the responsibility, and ultimately compensation, falls should a customer’s service not be connected on time was an item of significant concern for the country’s largest NBN reseller iiNet, which until recently refused sign the latest commercial service agreement with NBN Co.
iiNet took issue with the lack of responsibility NBN Co would accept in relation to the customer service guarantee, which enforces service levels for new fixed-line phone connections, fault rectification and the keeping of appointments.
It said last month NBN Co had refused to accept liability for CSG penalties on its connections, meaning the service provider (iiNet) would be forced to foot the bill for customer compensation.
But after holding for a month, iiNet last week announced it had resolved the majority of issues over the wholesale broadband agreement and would sign it in the coming weeks.