A bunch of politicians talk and talk about NBN, and make 23 recommendations. Eight of which have the interests of consumers at their heart.
When politicians get in a room they sure know how to create more work for other people. But how much of that work is going to help you – Joe Public.
Today the Joint Standing Committee on the National Broadband Network released their first report and recommendations.
23 of them. 23 Recommendations, and I’ve read them all.
The Government will respond in its own time, with the NBN by it’s side no doubt, but I’ve taken the time to put some analysis, some response against each and every recommendation.
To be clear, there are eight here that I wanna hear the response to. Another two that I could take or leave, and then 13 that are rubbish and nothing more than politicking which if implemented with mean huge extra costs and delays to those who are so desperately keen to get the NBN!
So – here goes:
The committee recommends that the Australian Government direct and enable nbn to complete as much as possible of the remaining fixed line network using FTTC at a minimum (or FTTP), and require nbn to produce a costed plan and timetable under which that would be achieved.
EFTM Analysis: I’m not sure if the Government will even require NBN to bother with this. The time and resources required just to prepare a cost analysis will add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Lots of time spent that should be spent on finalising the design and engineering of the existing technology plan.
This recommendation will be (and has already been) claimed by Fibre supporters as a win for their lobbying. But in the end, it’s just another way to prolong a political debate about a technology decision that has been made and is in full swing.
The cost of putting Fibre further into the roll out will drive the cost per premises up to a point where the budget will have to blow out substantially – and the budget is the reason we have the current technology plan.
The committee recommends, in light of recent results and developments, that the Australian Government commission an independent audit and assessment of the long-term assumptions underpinning nbn’s financial projections and business case as set out in the Corporate Plan 2018-21.
EFTM Analysis: Look, if the Government want to throw more money at consultants, let them loose! Get one of the big consulting firms like Boston or EY to bill them millions of man hours to trawl over the books and decide if things are tickety boo. Personally, I think its more taxes wasted, but let them at it.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government direct nbn to establish a regional and remote reference group to support the rollout of the NBN in rural and remote Australia. The reference group would include consumer advocate groups and departmental representation from the Department of Communications and the Arts and the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development. Business decisions that fundamentally change the nbn experience for the end user in regional and remote communities should be referred to the reference group for consideration and analysis as to whether the decision will result in nbn not meeting its responsibilities as outlined in the Statement of Expectations.
EFTM Analysis: Who wouldn’t want more bureaucracy involved in a major national infrastructure project that has to run to a timeline:)
The committee recommends the Government ensure by appropriate regulation that end users are informed of, or can easily access and are directed to, clear information about the maximum attainable layer 2 speed of their NBN infrastructure/service on a per premise basis.
EFTM Analysis: Bloody Great idea. This information should be published within the database of premises, so we can search any address and see the speeds possible. That means when buying a home people can see that, but more importantly residents can challenge the speeds they are getting with their ISP.
Additionally, it would mean we’d have a very clear snapshot of the “achievable” average, which would surprise most people I’m guessing.
The committee recommends that nbn develop and implement a framework that ensures best-practice installation as part of an ‘active handover’ model, with reference to the approach of Chorus NZ, so that each premise is assured of network capability at the point it is ready-for-service, and repeat visits and remedial costs are avoided.
EFTM Analysis: I think the NBN and or Government can respond to this with details of recent changes in the activation model they are currently doing. Switching from just ready for service to a more detailed breakdown of status. As long as it’s not adding bureaucracy – this is a win for consumers
The committee recommends that nbn review and provide advice to the committee on how it:
- takes into consideration the added complexity and time requirements of installations to Service Class 0 and Service Class 10 premises, or equivalent areas, when calculating its progress towards completion goals; and
- prioritises connections to areas that currently have no access to internet.
EFTM Analysis: For those affected, this is a hot issue, and I think it would be good for the NBN to provide this information. The problem is It’s likely a case by case problem, not a blanket policy issue. With regard to those without internet, I can’t imagine that’s a lot of premises that aren’t already being covered by the SkyMuster satellite.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government require nbn to identify and disclose all areas that are currently designated to be served by a satellite connection that previously were set to receive the NBN by FTTN or fixed wireless, and explain why the change has occurred.
EFTM Analysis: I see the need here, if I lived in one of those homes, I’d be pretty concerned if not angry. People deserve to know, but I doubt they’ll like the answer – because it’s going to come down to cost folks. Depends on how many homes it is. If it’s 100,000 or more, or even 50,000 then it’s a conversation that needs to be had.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government require nbn to develop a plan that would provide access to nbn’s fixed wireless towers for the provision of mobile telephony.
EFTM Analysis: If this is done universally and without any prejudice, then bring it on. The Universal Service Obligation offers Telstra large sums of money, but doesn’t require them to make cost effective access to the other Telcos.
This obligation would change the game for Optus and Voda, not to mention TPG.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government ask nbn to consider providing the capacity for separate business and residential Sky Muster plans to be made available at the same location when business grade plans are introduced in 2018.
EFTM Analysis: Seems like a good idea.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government set a benchmark for reasonable data allowance on Sky Muster plans, by reference to average data use across the fixed line network.
EFTM Analysis: Wonderful gesture, but data on Satellite is so much more expensive, so how much are we prepared to lose per customer to make this happen?
The committee recommends that the Australian Government ask nbn to establish a rural and regional reference group (see recommendation 3) and that nbn consult on Sky Muster services and changes to policy and rollout plans.
EFTM Analysis: See recommendation 3:)
The committee recommends that the regulation of broadband wholesale services be overhauled to establish clear rights and protections for suppliers and end users of NBN broadband services. This framework should include: service connection and fault repair timeframes; minimum network performance and reliability; and compensation arrangements when these standards are not met.
The committee requests that the Department brief the committee on progress in developing these protections by December 2017.
EFTM Analysis: This is great consumer protection, and if implemented may cause issues for the smaller telcos. Needs to be done carefully to ensure it benefits consumers, and doesn’t drive up price.
The committee recommends that nbn and RSPs develop business grade products specifically designed for the small business market which provide service guarantees and remedies. The committee requests that nbn and the Communications Alliance report back to the committee on progress in developing these products by December 2017.
EFTM Analysis: Not sure the committee understands the role of the NBN as a wholesaler. It’s up to the retaillers to do this, and the only influence over them might be ACMA or the ACCC. Seems like a useless recommendation.
The committee recommends that the Telecommunications Consumer Protection Code be amended to require that customers lodging a complaint with their retail service provider are specifically made aware of external dispute resolution options including the Telcommunications Industry Ombudsman at the time they initially lodge the complaint.
EFTM Analysis: This is all about driving up the TIO numbers. People know about the TIO. The problem is the NBN isn’t the retailer, so what opposition politicians want is for “nbn” complaint number to rise. Lets focus on the telcos. Ensure they get their shit together – they are the ones letting people down at the moment.
The committee recommends that the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman be empowered to compel any relevant parties to a complaint to meet together or otherwise cooperate in order to facilitate the resolution of that complaint within a set reasonable timeframe.
EFTM Analysis: The TIO should be empowered every step of the way. Not sure they need additional powers to do their job.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government direct nbn to clearly identify the complaint handling process for consumers, including:
- complaint resolution processes and timeframes, and
- internal and external complaint escalation processes.
This information must be provided by nbn in a way that meets Australian Government accessibility guidelines.
EFTM Analysis: Again, politicians trying to drive up complaint numbers.
The committee recommends that the Australian Communications and Media Authority develop and introduce an updated Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code that specifically addresses issues raised in relation to customer experiences with NBN services. This should include mandatory, enforceable standards to regulate the marketing of broadband speeds, in line with the recent principles and industry guidance released by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. The updated instrument must ensure that end users have rights and accessible procedures to enforce those rights.
EFTM Analysis: 100% on the right track here, this should be recommendation Number 1 – but these politicians are blinded by their own bickering and don’t think first of consumers.
The committee recommends that the ACMA consider introducing an updated statutory determination, applicable to all NBN technology types, to require retail service providers to inform customers of any critical service issues and line impairments to ensure the customer has understood these issues, prior to a service commencing.
EFTM Analysis: Seems fair to me.
The committee recommends that nbn publish prominently on its website, monthly information relating to its end user satisfaction metrics, including:
- its overall net promoter score as measured each month;
- the overall net promoter score for each technology type as measured each month;
- relevant disaggregated information about end user satisfaction metrics in relation to each RSP; and
- any relevant disaggregated information about end user satisfaction metrics in specific geographic areas, such as:
- data broken down by state and territory; and
- data relating to each fixed-line area in the rollout footprint, as areas are designated Ready for Service.
EFTM Analysis: More red tape, more reporting. How about the ACMA take care of this as part of their broadband speed monitoring program?
The committee recommends that the scope, function, and operation of the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) be expanded so that, among other improvements determined through the current review process, the TIO should keep data according to technology type, and should record and report multiple issues as separate items, especially where nbn and an RSP are both involved.
EFTM Analysis: Absolutely, though it’s just adding red tape. I’ll have to check, but I don’t think even Telco data is broken down at TIO levels, it’s just “Telstra” not “Telstra Mobile” and “Telstra Bigpond” in the reporting.
The committee recommends that the Department of Communications and the Arts publish the data it receives from nbn as part of its monthly reporting regime, including data relating to:
- network fault restoration;
- service fault restoration;
- connection performance, such as right first time activations; and
- activities undertaken in accordance with service level agreement.
EFTM Analysis: The Department has it, lets leave it with them to handle ok? Every scrappy bloody senator who wants to big note themselves (Sam) will just claw onto stupid numbers to take them out of context to make boring viral videos about. This is stupid.
The committee requests that nbn review and provide advice to the committee on its processes and conduct with regard to the engagement, training, coordination and dispute resolution with subcontractors, in accordance with global best-practice.
EFTM Analysis: There are certainly issues with the sub contractors. However, there isn’t any record of these issues not being dealt with. When reported, they are fixed – why can’t we be happy with that? Does the committee really think the NBN don’t care and aren’t actively kicking butt at Sub Contractor level to ensure standards are high? Crazy power drunk politicians.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government ensure that digital inclusion is measured and reported. It has been suggested that the Productivity Commission assess and report on income and wealth inequality in Australia, and it may be worth including the measurement and reporting of digital inequality, as the two areas are likely to be increasingly related.
EFTM Analysis: Jesus, just another bureaucratic measure. Digital inclusion – how about we let them FINISH THE NETWORK – that’s pretty digitally inclusive folks.