ACMA will not out dodgy Telcos – chances are you are using one

100% human

The ACMA has released its half-yearly (July to December 2018) report on 30 Australian Telcos, and it is not pretty. But it won’t name names and it should.

The ACMA (Australian Communications and Media Authority) report is here and uses July to December 2018 of mandatory reporting under new record-keeping rules. It hopes to publish an update soon every quarter. The only problem – it has not outed dodgy or repeat Telco offenders.

Key highlights of the ACMA report

  • 846,454 complaints received (12.7% increase over the previous period)
  • 96,607 about NBN broadband provided by Carriage Service Providers (CSP)
  • 69,182 about non-NBN broadband, e.g. ADSL, wireless etc. provides by major Telcos
  • 13,508 about voice services over NBN (VoIP controlled by a CSP)
  • 34,936 about landline services over copper
  • 174,562 complaints about mobile phone services
  • 59,675 – other, e.g. dial-up internet, email, Webhosting etc

Let’s look first at NBN (December quarter)

  • Faults (25.6%)
  • Connections (10.4%)
  • Speed (6.9%)
  • Other (57.1%) – mainly billing faults.

The standout issue here is billing. NBN has created a monster by having so many CSPs all with disparate infrastructure, routing, backbones, backhauls, connections to international points of presence and billing systems. These all impact on NBN faults and speeds, resulting in consumers demanding refunds and charged for speeds (Tiers) faster than they can get. In other words, an awful lot of flack thrown at NBN is the CSP’s fault.

The figures below are in SIO or services in operation per 10,000 customers – its ACMA’s way of weighting the number of complaints to the number of services – and it hides the actual number of complaints!)

  • fibre-to-the-curb (FTTC)—547
  • fibre-to-the-building (FTTB)—246
  • hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC)—226
  • fibre-to-the-node (FTTN)—216
  • fixed wireless—185
  • fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP)—141
  • satellite—57.

Remember that 57.1% are relates to billing – not to faults. FTTC is high because it was only first available in March 2018 and has since stabilised.

Australian services

  Quarter Sep 2018 Dec 2018 Quarter change
Total 40,456,427 41,398,428 2.3%
Fixed voice 4,149,018 3,867,480 -6.8%
Fixed broadband
2,211,175 2,093,041 -5.3%
NBN voice-only 271,772 275,753 1.5%
NBN broadband 4,522,312 4,854,259 7.3%
Mobile 29,077,017 30,059,896 3.4%
Other 225,133 247,999 10.2%

Summary of ACMA complaints

  • Mobile services had the highest number of services in operation (30.1 million) yet the lowest rate of complaints (SIO)
  • Voice-only services delivered by Telcos over the NBN (using VoIP technology) had the lowest number of services in operation (275,753) but the highest rate of complaints
  • Rate of complaints about broadband services delivered by Telcos over the NBN is 40% lower than for services delivered over non-NBN networks
  • Highest rate of complaints about broadband services delivered by Telcos over the NBN involved the new fibre-to-the-curb technology—however, this high rate of complaints was attributable to only a few of the Telcos that provided data to the ACMA
  • Median number of days Telcos take to resolve a complaint is six (Telcos have a maximum of 15 days to propose a resolution to a complaint)
  • Total complaints to Telcos increased in the December quarter, while the proportion of complaints referred to Telcos for resolution by the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) is down.

The TIO responds (to the statistics)

The top five complaint issues for the period were:

  • 18,845 – no action or delayed action by the service provider.
  • 18,324 – disputed charges for a service or equipment.
  • 8,025 – no working phone or internet service.
  • 7,202 – delays with connections or changing providers.
  • 6,387 – intermittent service or dropouts.   

Complaints per State (in July to December)

  • Australian Capital Territory – 911
  • New South Wales – 19,321
  • Northern Territory – 339
  • Queensland – 11,585
  • South Australia – 4,615
  • Tasmania – 994
  • Victoria – 17,639
  • Western Australia – 5,580

Ombudsman Judi Jones said, “We are considering the data published in the report. The telecommunications sector must continue to focus on meeting the needs of consumers. The publication of internal complaint handling data provides a more comprehensive picture of the consumer experience and supports our work with regulators, government, and providers to understand better the issues driving complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman.”

GadgetGuy’s take – ACMA needs to do more to out dodgy Telcos.

GadgetGuy is one of those with a formal TIO complaint against Telstra/NBN that has been ongoing for over a year with no resolution, so you will excuse me for not quite believing that the average complaint rectification time as six days.

The ACMA report is a good start, but it does not go far enough. Give us names!