NBN Co's most complained-about access tech is FTTC

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NBN Co's most complained-about access tech is FTTC

Several thousand complaints a quarter.

NBN Co might claim fibre-to-the-curb users are among its biggest advocates, but users connected with that access technology also lodge more complaints than others.

New figures compiled by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) show that in the last calendar quarter of 2018, FTTC users lodged more than twice as many complaints as users connected to the NBN with other access technologies.

The ACMA said - and iTnews confirmed - that FTTC accounted for 547 complaints for every 10,000 FTTC services in operation (SIO) in the last three months of 2018.

NBN Co released numbers in January this year that showed FTTC users were strong advocates for NBN services, with 68 percent recommending them to others.

However, the ACMA figures show FTTC was generating a high number of complaints over the same period.

In the three months to the end of September 2018, FTTC users complained at a rate of 817 for every 10,000 services - at least three times more than any other access technology.

That improved in the following quarter, moving to 547 complaints per 10,000 services - about 2.2 times more than the next most complained about access technology (which, incidentally, was fibre-to-the-basement - a service NBN Co says its customers are most likely to advocate in favour of).

To put that in context, at the end of 2018 NBN Co had 76,360 FTTC SIOs in total, according to ACCC figures. About 4177 of those were subject to complaints, based on the ACMA numbers.

For the prior quarter ended 30 September, NBN Co had 39,204 FTTC SIOs, of which 3203 were the subject of complaints.

The ACMA suggested that the high rate of FTTC complaints - and the gradual decrease in those numbers - might suggest the technology is maturing.

It also said that the FTTC problems were concentrated among a small number of internet providers.

“FTTC connections recorded the highest rate of complaints out of the NBN access technologies,” the ACMA said.

“However, the data shows that the higher rate of complaints about FTTC connections in the September 2018 and December 2018 quarters was attributable to only a few of the 30 reporting providers. 

“In addition, the first FTTC connections were completed just prior to the first reporting period, in March 2018. At the end of the December 2018 quarter, FTTC accounted for 1.5 percent of SIOs delivered over the NBN. 

“It may be inferred that the relative newness of this technology contributed to the high rate of complaints.”

An NBN Co spokesperson said it is the "first telco in the world to roll out FTTC at scale" and said that the complaints amounted to "teething issues".

"But we are quickly learning how to improve our processes and customer experience," the spokesperson said.

There were also relatively high numbers of complaints about voice-only NBN services.

“In December 2018 there were 490 complaints per 10,000 voice-only services delivered by reporting providers over the NBN, compared to 803 complaints in the September 2018 quarter,” the ACMA said.

The authority suggested it could have something to do with the relative reliability of NBN voice services compared to those traditionally delivered over the copper network.

“Voice services delivered over the NBN rely on voice over internet protocol (VoIP) technology to a much greater extent than voice services delivered over legacy networks.”

Overall, the ACMA said that NBN complaints were seen considerably less than complaints lodged against other network owners.

“The rate of complaints about broadband services delivered by telcos over the NBN is 40 percent lower than for services delivered over non-NBN networks,” the authority said.

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