Milestone marred by lousy experiences

The National Broadband Network made a big song and dance this week about reaching the halfway point in its national rollout. It also announced the South Coast was one of the most connected regions in its network.

Normally, this milestone would merit applause but with almost daily reports of appalling connection issues the lustre has been dulled.

Even for the domestic user, a dysfunctional internet is intolerable. For a business, which relies on its internet and phone connection, it is disastrous.

Even more infuriating for the customer is the ping pong between NBN Co and service providers, as the blame is bounced between the two. Some businesses in Nowra have been left in a telecommunication void for weeks on end. 

Shifting the blame is entirely inappropriate. There is clearly the need for a third party to intervene and establish definitively who is at fault and needs to rectify the issue.

Flopping from call centre to call centre ratchets up the anger and frustration, which does enormous reputational damage to the NBN and the telcos and a good deal of that mud ends up sticking to the government.

Curiously, when the Register brought the plight of one business operator to the attention of NBN Co, his problem was fast-tracked and a solution that had seemed impossible miraculously found. 

This has happened in the past. Some months ago we revealed the plight of a local business that could not be connected because the technicians could not find it on Google Maps. We publicised the issue and it was resolved. This is entirely unsatisfactory. Media attention should not be the catalyst for fixing problems – that’s the realm of customer service.

No amount of soothing words from the Communications Minister or trumpet blowing by NBN Co will defuse the ticking time bomb that is customer fury at ongoing connection issues. Both would do well to take a look at the audience response on our Facebook page. It’s a quick ready reckoner of dissatisfaction.       

While we accept there will be hiccups with the rollout of any new technology, we do not for one second think it acceptable that users who have paid for a shiny new service end up with no service at all. 

So at this halfway point, we urge NBN Co to get its act together so the households and businesses yet to be connected aren’t confronted with the same infuriating problems.