NBN customers set to gain rebates

In a major win for dissatisfied national broadband customers, the consumer watchdog has forced NBN Co to lift its game and offer rebates or alternative services when it fails to meet internet promises.

The internet infrastructure company has agreed to pay penalties each time its wholesale arrangements cause retail service providers (RSPs) to delay connections or repair faults for customers.

The court-enforceable undertaking was extracted by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) after the first part of an inquiry into below-par wholesale services that have bedevilled the rollout of faster broadband around the nation.

“The undertaking will improve the rebates that NBN Co pays to RSPs for not meeting its service level timeframes for connections, fixing faults and meeting scheduled appointments,” ACCC chair Rod Sims said yesterday.

“This will lead to improved NBN connections and … performance overall.”

NBN Co said it would implement the new measures within three months.

Mr Sims added: “Under the undertaking … NBN Co will require the RSPs to continue to take reasonable steps to ensure customers receive a benefit from the improved rebates the service providers will receive from NBN Co.

“This could mean customers could receive rebates from RSPs or other benefits, such as providing a substitute service while a fault is being fixed.

“The undertaking provides stronger incentives for NBN Co to maintain a high standard of operational performance and so will result in a clear benefit to consumers.”

The new measures mean NBN Co will:

  • pay a $25 rebate to internet providers for every late connection and fault rectification
  • introduce a new $25 rebate to retailers for each missed appointment
  • simplify the process for retailers to receive rebates and remove some conditions for claiming rebates
  • improve its reporting to providers so they can more easily track NBN Co’s performance and better support consumers in congested fixed wireless cells
  • add information about the level of congestion in its fixed wireless network to the customer experience dashboard that it publishes monthly.

“Greater transparency of the performance of NBN Co’s fixed wireless network will encourage it to continue to prioritise the upgrade of the network to increase capacity, and to improve customer experience,” Mr Sims said.

“Such transparency will allow industry and the public to assess how well NBN Co is responding to the congestion issues on the fixed wireless network.”

The ACCC will continue with its inquiry to resolve other issues not addressed by the new measures.

The watchdog will soon release another consultation paper as part of the NBN wholesale service standards inquiry. Further information about the inquiry can be found at NBN Co.

Are you still having problems with your NBN connection? Do you think the potential penalties NBN will have to pay for poor performance are enough?

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Written by Olga Galacho

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