Home Telecoms & NBN Fifield claims TIO figures give skewed picture of telco issues

Fifield claims TIO figures give skewed picture of telco issues

Communications Minister Mitch Fifield has questioned the manner in which the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman has calculated the percentage rise of complaints relating to services deliver over the national broadband network.

In a statement, Fifield said that the TIO's claim of a 28.7% increase in complaints - the organisation recorded 84,914 complaints for the July to December 2017 period - held water only when compared to the July to December 20916 period.

"When you compare against the preceding six-month period (92,046 total complaints from January to June 2017) complaints actually decreased by 7.75%," Fifield said.

The rise in complaints has led to criticism from many quarters, including from the telco industry lobby group Communications Alliance, the Labor Party and Macquarie Telecom.

Fifield also contested the portrayal of the number of complaints about services delivered over the NBN; the TIO said it had registered 22,827 complaints in the July to December 2017 window, a rise of 204% over the figure for July to December 2016.

"This presentation could give the impression that responsibility for this figure rests with NBN Co."

The advice the government had received from NBN Co was that of these 22,827 complaints, less than 5% (1052 in total) were sent to NBN Co to be resolved, he said.

"This was over a period (six months to 31 Dec 2017) that saw a 39% increase in NBN premises activated," Fifield added.

nbn fifield figures

Citing figures (seen above), he argued that in 2017 the rate of complaints for services delivered over the NBN had actually decreased by about 16%.

"Without this context and information about which party (NBN Co or retail service provider) is responsible for resolving customer complaints, organisations lack accountability, which, as today's TIO complaint numbers (irrespective of who is responsible for them) show, leads to poorer outcomes for consumers of telecommunications services," Fifield said.

However, he did acknowledge that, no matter where the fault lay, the number of complaints was too high and announced a review of the telecommunications consumer protections framework for a post-2020 environment.

Screenshot: courtesy Department of Communications and the Arts

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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

 

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