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Managed I.C.T Services Queensland

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Australia's Internet Nightmare

NBN and the Internet Nightmare in Australia:

The latest worldwide internet ratings ranked Australia at 48th in the world, 31 places behind the UK.  Back in 2010, the UK and Australia shared the national average internet speed, 4.8Mbps.

But since then, Australia and UK have taken different paths to upgrading their internet infrastructure.  Since 2010, the UK has steadily been upgrading their internet network with two companies, Virgin Media and BT.  Between Virgin Media and BT, Fibre to the node (FTTN) has been installed to 37 million premises.  BT has supplied a minimum of 38 Mbps to 25 million premises, and Virgin Media has upgraded its HFC network to 200 Mbps to 12 million premises.

Australia has a had a lacklustre implementation of FTTN.  In six years, it has only installed FTTP to 1.5 million premises, or about 16% of the country.  This means 80% of the country still cannot get an upgraded internet connection via the NBN network.

Of the lucky customers that have access to the NBN network in Australia, not many are signing up to the highest speeds which are very expensive.  Even with a relatively small upgrade to Australia’s infrastructure via the NBN, the average internet speed has only grown to a paltry 8.2 Mbps, as nearly everyone signing to the NBN are choosing the slowest speeds available, or the second slowest.  People would naturally choose the fastest speeds they could get, but they are too expensive.  The reason for the high costs is the fact that there are three fibres to every premises, and an NTU that has the ability to have simultaneous services from four RSP’s (see key terms in the footnote).

MTC Business Technology have spent countless hours dealing with Telstra over the phone and in person meetings, and will start a blog series on our dealings with them so customers can see the time and effort we spend on their issues to get phone and data issues sorted on their behalf.  Personally MTC have had to log a complaint with the TIO (Telephone Industry Ombudsmen) in an effort to get issues resolved.

Our issues with Telstra started approximately 12 months ago and have not been solved yet.  We were spending over $5000 per year on our phone and data services, both for home and the MTC office.  This included 2 x smartphone contracts, 2 x landlines, 2 x internet contracts.  We moved offices to Varsity Lakes in December 2015, where we now have fibre internet to a better provider.

We requested in November 2015 that we wished to have the office internet and phone disconnected, and they both were at the end of the 24-month contract, so the minimum contract term had lapsed.   What happened and what is still happening is that they have disconnected the home internet several times, then reconnected the home internet, on a different plan.  Now we are on a 50GB plan instead of a 200GB per month plan.  Our contract has also renewed, so Telstra is saying we are now locked into them for another 24 months, so it is impossible for us to go to another provider.  On top of this we are also still being charged for the internet and the phone at the old office which we vacated 6 months earlier.

What the problem is that there is no account manager nor paper trail or consistent ticketing system or record keeping to keep track of the requests made.  Because there are two accounts, they are getting confused which one to disconnect.  Even though one is for business, one is for home, and they are both paired with certain phone numbers.  You call in and request to cancel the service which is on the phone number 5559-2025 yet they disconnect the phone line and internet instead.  And every time you call in you are faced with non-fluent English speakers doesn’t understand English, so you constantly have to repeat yourself.  You also have to deal with call drop outs, and up to 10 department transfers.  And with each transfer you have to explain the issue to someone new.  Each call usually lasts an hour minimum, and you get no resolution, only more problems, like your home phone and internet getting cut off.

In the coming months, I have a project to complete for a Managed Service client, that involves upgrading their phone system and their data connection.  As being their Business I.T. Support for the past three years, I have had to support their current network, and they have had countless issues with their ISP, Telstra.  And it is the same issue that other people experience.  As soon as there is anything slightly complicated, but normal for business, say 9 phone lines coming in, as well as data, Telstra can’t provide reliable service.  With this client, if we have to make any changes to phone lines, say add a new number, we experience phone line disconnections, which for a business can affect business profits.

In this case, the client hosts a phone helpdesk support for national product chain, so people that purchase products who have warranty claims or product queries can call in and get support.  In this case, when Telstra configured the phone lines to add new lines, the rest of the phone numbers were disconnected.  Even though this was a high value client with 10 phone lines, and a Telstra supplied phone system with twenty handsets and a server, as well as data connection, getting the issue resolved was a nightmare.  The only MTC could help was to use the redundant internet connection.  This was supplied via a USB internet dongle plugged into the USB port on the router.  We then had to pay $10 per GB and constantly watch the credit levels and keep topping up $100 at a time just to keep the network connected to the internet.

The phone system was entirely down as well.  So anyone calling in just got a disconnected signal.  Dealing with Telstra was very unprofessional.  Even though we had a case manager, she was not reliable.  We would call, and she would not answer, wouldn’t be at her desk or would be on another call.  With phone lines down, and no case manager taking calls we were forced to call Telstra Business Helpdesk and request from Telstra a call diversion from their helpdesk number to a cell phone, so we could take calls.  This affected business in that the call weren’t going through the phone server, so we could get no queue of incoming phone calls, no metrics on calls so we could measure how the helpdesk was performing.  There was no logging of calls, so the reporting for the month was also incomplete as well.  Not to mention the users or customers calling in.  They weren’t experiencing the same professional service that they were used to.

Eventually the issue was resolved after 10 business days, and over a hundred hours by the client’s staff and MTC (Madtech Business IT Support) staff dealing with Telstra.  And the financial effect of having to use pre-paid data for a busy office environment, was over $500 just for the two weeks, which took Telstra several months to admit responsibility for, and then longer again to re-imburse.

In the coming weeks, MTC has been assigned to researching a faster internet connection (fibre) for a client who is changing to a VOIP phone solution for twenty users.  We will document the process to demonstrate the difficulties in upgrading a commercial internet connection, and to also help MTC customers for when they want to upgrade their own office internet.

Will keep you posted. J

kel toyne