Aussies ‘not signing up’ to NBN

MORE than twice as many Australians now have access to the National Broadband Network as it finally rolls into cities but fewer people are signing up to the service and its creators admit confusion and complaints continue to plague the network.

NBN Co revealed the network reached 4.6 million Australian homes and business by the end of March, up from just two million a year ago.

But Australians were not signing up to use the service at the same pace as it rolled out, with fewer than half the number of connections used, and its percentage of active users dropping.

The news followed a Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman report yesterday that found complaints about the NBN more than doubled during the last half of 2016.

NBN Co chief executive Bill Morrow said the network's controversial use of "existing infrastructure" such as copper phone lines had sped up installations, and the NBN was on track to reach its target of 5.4 million connected premises by the end of June.

But Mr Morrow said its rollout could "never be pain-free" and he recognised some existing customers were complaining about installation and connection problems, and many new users were confused.

"The NBN is on a continuous improvement curve," he said.

"We aren't happy with anybody having a negative experience as they get their installation completed, as they use the product or, when Murphy's Law takes effect and the service goes down."

NBN Co figures revealed the number of premises connected to the network rose 130 per cent over the past year, but the number of NBN users did not increase at the same rate.

Just 43 per cent of households that could use the NBN had an active service.

Mr Morrow said this figure would change as more households were disconnected from copper lines, which occurred 18 months after their NBN service became available.

But technology expert Angus Kidman said research showed two thirds of Australian internet users planned to delay signing up to the NBN, and many were confused about how to do so or what its benefits could be.

Confusion about who was responsible for fixing faulty NBN services was also creating concerns, he said, and he would be "amazed if we don't see another increase in complaints" to the Ombudsman.

Mr Kidman said most NBN complaints were based around cost, slow connections, dropouts, and drawn-out installations, and the company needed to better educate consumers and provide straightforward customer service when things went wrong.

"It's going along in terms of build okay but there needs to be more done to make consumers happy," Mr Kidman said.

"Levels of confusion are definitely high and there's been education going on but it has to be approached differently because it hasn't been working so far."

Originally published as Australians 'not signing up' to the NBN