Less than half of those able to join the National Broadband Network have done so and those who have joined are accessing it at some of the lowest speeds available, a draft report released on Monday by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission shows.
The NBN is available to 6.2 million Australian premises but only 3 million of those have migrated to an NBN plan, according to the ACCC.
According to the NBN Co, this number is misrepresentative of the uptake percentage, with 75 per cent of those connected to the NBN migrating to an NBN plan after 18 months.
The ACCC report said that another of the reasons behind the gap was that some providers were being incentivised to keep customers on the older network where they are able to earn better margins.
The poor retailer margins and low uptake of high-speed NBN plans could impact on NBN Co’s ability to recover its costs as most consumers opt for the cheaper plans.
While the NBN can achieve maximum speeds of up to 100 Mbps, just 16 per cent of those currently on the network are using it at speeds above 50 Mbps. It leaves the remaining 84 per cent using it at speeds comparable to those available on the copper wire network.
The low uptake was put down to consumers being satisfied with the current internet speeds and unwillingness to pay for higher speeds.
The report revealed there has been a 79 per cent increase in NBN-related complaints received by the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) in the past year, even when adjusted for an increase in activations.
In 2016-17, the TIO received more than 27,000 complaints related to NBN services. While the increase in complaints was expected, the larger-than-anticipated rise was cause for concern, the TIO said.
Edgecliff resident Bernard Shirley said that intermittent failures on the network meant that he was often left unable to trade shares and send emails.
“You are paying for a service and your options are limited,” he said. “People like me cannot trade shares on the NBN. It’s not the end of the world but it means I can’t conduct my business.”
Mr Shirley said that his previous broadband service on the copper wire network was satisfactory to conduct business and didn’t experience failures with the same regularity as the NBN.
In its report the ACCC said the allocation of responsibilities in fixing service faults was an issue that was affecting consumers.
“The allocation of responsibility for connections and service faults between NBN Co and service providers is an issue that will affect consumer experiences, especially where consumers suffer detriment,” it said.
Many consumers reported an unsatisfactory experience with the NBN during the migration process from the copper wire network to the new network.
In submissions collected by the ACCC, there is also discontent with the speeds and costs associated with accessing the NBN.
A computer applications programmer living near Port Macquarie detailed the significant cost being placed on them because the NBN was not available at their home.
The person, whose details were redacted, said that they had to pay for a separate office space and internet connection, a half-hour drive away, costing $300 a week.
ACCC chairman Rod Sims said that the report had given the commission a good idea of the problems consumers were facing.
“The study has highlighted a number of areas of consumer concerns which will benefit from some immediate actions,” he said.
The ACCC has said it will establish a Broadband Performance Monitoring and Reporting program in a bid to provide consumers with accurate information about broadband speeds.
Even at its highest speeds, Australia is trailing many other countries in the delivery of high speed broadband. In Japan, consumers can access an average download speed of 756 Mbps for an average price of $60.96 a month compared with Australia where an average download speed of 100 Mbps costs an average of $106.77 a month.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.