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Let’s talk about nbn™

Retired Employee RohanGaneson
Retired Employee
0 20 43.6K

Rohan Ganeson banner.png

 

New and untried technology or business models almost always come with teething challenges. The National Broadband Network, commonly known as nbn™, is no exception. The nbn™ is a key example of an emerging technology and business with incredible benefits for Australians, but one that has arrived with its own set of obstacles that we need to master.

 

At present we have two major challenges when it comes to the nbn™. One is the time it takes to connect customers to the nbn™ network and the second, relates to download speeds (especially at peak times), once customers are set up and connected. These issues affect the entire telecommunications industry as well as nbn™ themselves - but I can speak specifically about what Optus is doing to deliver a better customer experience.

 

I’ll start by addressing the time it takes to get customers set up and connected to nbn™. Currently, an unprecedented number of people are migrating to the nbn™, as we transition from older copper and cable technology to new fibre-based technologies across Australia, suburb by suburb. As a result of the high number of migrations, the time it takes from a customer placing an order with us to having nbn™ installed at their property has sometimes taken too long. Where you live and the type of building you reside in also affects how long it can take to get you set up with nbn™. For instance, some households require remedial civil works (i.e. new cabling into the home from the street) in order to access the new network.

 

To alleviate these connectivity delays, there are a number of things we are doing. Firstly, nbn™ themselves is putting more technicians on the ground and secondly, Optus is establishing new systems and processes together that will make ordering and installing nbn™ quicker and simpler. For example, we are working with nbn™ to ensure any remedial work on your house is complete prior to accepting your order; that way your current service will remain in place until your house is nbn™ ready.

We have also implemented a system that allows us to see every Optus nbn™ order in flight so we can track and trace your order in the system; this will give us and you more transparency about the status of your order so you know exactly when you can expect its arrival and installation.

 

In terms of download speeds, there are a number of factors that can influence the actual speed you receive in the home at any time. One issue relates to the network capacity available to be shared across users at peak times (generally after school and at weekends). The industry is working with nbn™ to look at current wholesale price arrangements for this network capacity so that we can provide a better experience but at the same reasonable price.

 

The secondary issue relates to how your in-home broadband is setup. nbn™ speeds are heavily affected by the quality of your home wiring, building structure or Wi-Fi modem. These internal factors can affect the speed that you receive which might be less than the theoretical maximum speed of the service. For example, if you have an old modem/router or high speed Wi-Fi can’t penetrate your home walls, your network speed and performance will degrade. To tackle this, we’ve implemented a number of measures. Firstly, you’ll soon be able to self-diagnose performance issues with your nbn™ service via My Optus app. Through the app you’ll be able to track and trace your nbn™ order as well as test your broadband link and diagnose issues with your Wi-Fi coverage. We will also introduce Wi-Fi Mesh products (such as Google Wi-Fi) that provide better Wi-Fi coverage in your home. Being able to manage your service digitally means you’ll be able to fix problems whenever you need to. Secondly we’ll be providing more information on our website and our customer support platform Yes Crowd so you can find answers and advice on nbn™ 24/7.

 

Despite some initial challenges, there are many benefits of nbn™. From education and business to socialising and entertainment, speedy internet will be revolutionary across every aspect of life in Australia. It will transform the way we stream and download content, watch sports, play games and keep in touch with loved ones.  We’ll become even more connected than ever before so we greatly appreciate your patience whilst we work to bring you this incredible new technology.

 

As always, if you have any comments or questions for me, please leave them below.

20 Comments
Honoured Contributor
Honoured Contributor

Thanks for the information Rohan. Its good to see Optus getting proactive with some of the issues many customers have commented on. Much of the problems seem to stem from no one having any information of what if anything is or can be done. Implimenting these systems (internally and for the customer to access) sounds like great initiatives.

 

If customer take up rates are too high then Optus does have one very obvious way to manage that - stop cancelling (existing) customers broadband after just three months of becoming NBN Ready. This crams suburbs worth of customers in to migrating in just a matter of a month or two instead of over a year or more. Its little wonder NBN and Optus resources become stressed.

 

I figure (poor) customer setups must contibute to a lot of complaints but the volume of posts noting performance drops in peak hours suggests Optus really needs to be looking inwards rather than outwards. Along with Telstra, Optus is unique among the Telcos of having long provided high speed bandwidth via HFC. Your customers (I'd wager on average more tech savy) have had their house setup working fine until now - what has changed is the NBN.

 

I've commented before that Optus should be using the industry wide poor performance as an oportunity to differentiate on performance. Instead like all the other Telcos they seem to be embracing a corner cutting approach. As I see it, the problem is customers have not adapted to the new price requirements. Optus specifically suffers from this with so many more customers having been on HFC seeing the NBN as getting less for more. Instead of fronting this, issue Optus are trying to pretend its business as usual with (just two) plans that are not up to the task in many households but which are priced similar to pre-NBN.

 

It doesn't help that Optus are including PVRs, Entertainment Packs, Free Streaming, EPL, unlimited downloads etc. which all bite into cost and performance, but I appreciate the business reason for going down this 'content' path. IMO Optus should be offering a third plan. One that is manageable and focuses on performance, something that (as the second biggest Telco) could lead the industry towards what the NBN will become. 

 

  • Sold as the Performance plan
  • Leave off the extras (Fetch, etc.)

  • Go the 50/20 tier to differentiate from other plans
  • Cap monthly data to 1Tb
  • Provision to ensure its hitting 75% of its speeds 24/7
  • Price accordingly - $100?

A while ago petrol prices topped $1 for the first time (signs had to be replaced, the population panicked, driving to work was not going to be possible, etc.) Now $1.50 is not even blinked at. The NBN is similar IMO. Customers (and Telcos) will need to adjust their price performance points - Optus HFC perfomance used to be $80. Its now $100 (or more.) Word of mouth is very powerful in this industry and if Optus can get a reputation for a product that performs people will pay the extra.

 

Anyway, that's my 0.02c 

 

Looking forward to seeing the impact of these new initatives.

 

Regards

 

Peter Gillespie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crowd Champion Davelew
Crowd Champion

Hi

 

I think @petergdownload has summed up many peoples view of Optus and it's response to the implementation of the NBN.

 

As Peter comments Optus does seem to go down the path that they know better than their customers as to their technical knowledge.   Prior to the NBN many customers have optimised their modem/routers to provide what they require.   For instance I require to be able to manage my DNS addresses and add static routes.  Optus make this nearly impossible with the modems they supply and when this is queried respond with the stock "This is best for our customers".

 

Of course there will be teething problems with the implemtation of NBN but if you follow the comments and complaints in Yes Crowd many come down to when they speak to an Optus support member all they receive is a few well rehearsed lines without answering any of the issues raised.    Extra and proficient training of staff would seem to be required.   I can but refer you to the marked difference if you have a technical issue when you call IInet.   Efficient and knowledgeable technical staff and a call back service which works.

 

I know this all costs money but many of your customers will not stay with Optus if they don't get what they are paying for and they spread the word to others of their disappointment.

 

Well that's a total of 0.04c worth from your Yes Crowd members.

 

Regards

 

Dave Lewington

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frequent Contributor
Frequent Contributor

Optus HFC matured into a great product over the years and possibly Optus NBN can do the same.

 

Optus mobile network has matured into a fairly good product over the years.

 

Optus customer service has degraded significantly over the years, mostly the last couple of years, you can not speak to anyone with any authority or knowledge at all any more. The CSR's tell you anything to convince you that they have solved your problem, yet nothing is actually done to fix your problem and no details are recorded against your account so next time you start from scratch, starting with a 1 hour wait time to be shuffled around and lied to.

 

Optus products are not the problem, Optus Customer Service is the problem.

 

NBN proceedures and CVC allocation will settle down, but that will still leave Optus Customer Service to be attended to.

Honoured Contributor
Honoured Contributor

Interesting new plans launched today. Smiley Surprised Free month to month. Pure performance.  I hope they prove sucessful for Optus. One possible anomaly I spotted was the new basic plan costs $20 more than the other basic plan (which is also still available). 

 

Regards

 

Peter Gillespie

Honoured Contributor
Honoured Contributor

My mistake. Disregard the above (cant delete in blogs).

 

Regards

 

Peter Gillespie

Occasional Visitor Milesp
Occasional Visitor

I've been extremely disgusted with the level of service we have received from Optus since we moved into our new home on May 12th. On the day we moved the NBN technician connected us to the NBN and supplied us with the modem. He advised us that there was a network issue and that the internet wouldn't work until it was resolved. To date it is still not resolved and both my wife and I have contacted Optus on numerous occasssions always to be told that we would get a response within two business days. In the 3 months that we have been trying to get our internet up and running never have Optus contacted us to advise us of the problem and when we can get connected. We have not been offered an alternative. We are both post-graduate students studying externally and I am expected to work from home occassionally thus without any internet service this is extremely frustrating. When we finally contacted the Ombudsman in relation to the matter a Fixed Resolver Team member rang me and was unbelievably blunt to the point of refusing to respond to me when I asked a question before she hung up on me. 

I am beyond dissapointed with the lack of service provided by Optus.

Frequent Contributor
Frequent Contributor

@petergdownload, you mentioned: "Thanks for the information Rohan. Its good to see Optus getting proactive with some of the issues many customers have commented on"

 

Seems more like being reactive. If Optus were proactive, they would have released this informaiton prior to most customer comments. Secondly, There were no "Initiatives" mentioned, as the title of the commentry suggested, it's a discussion about the NBN. Sounds like @RohanGaneson is just expressing a common sense approach. You don't need a university degree or a flamboyant marketing team, just a little bit of common sense. There are no commitments let alone initiatives mentoned.

 

 

Honoured Contributor
Honoured Contributor

@beetroot

 

I take your point that Optus (like many) do seem to be playing catch up here. Perhaps what I should have said is I'm glad Optus are being active in this area. I disagree nothing new was announced, I see

 

1. Your current service will now remain in place until your house is nbn™ ready (That should reduce many frustrations)

2. Implemented a system that allows Optus to see every Optus nbn™ order so we can track and trace your order in the system - you know exactly when you can expect its arrival and installation. (Big customer request.)

3. Be able to self-diagnose performance issues with your nbn™ service via My Optus app. (Probably rudamentary, but might help)  

 

Of course, how these play out at the coal face is yet to be seen, but as far as I can tell the disconnected communication interface between NBN and all Telcos has been a big cause of people's concerns. It hasn't been helped by customer service people trying to guess or work around things (to varying degrees of success).

 

Regards

 

Peter Gillespie

New Member GuruJ
New Member

I have a slightly different perspective. I'm still stuck on ADSL2 for now on a measly 3Mbps, but I've accepted that the technology meant that not much could be done to boost overall speed.

 

Unfortunately, in the last few weeks even this measly bandwidth has been getting congested in peak hours (4-6pm) to the point where it's basically impossible to do much more than browse the net. Since I work from home it is a big productivity drag.

 

I don't know whether I am being shunted on to NBN backhaul or it's just that Optus isn't upgrading legacy infrastructure any more. Either way, it is frustrating and it does appear to be related to the explosion in content streaming. I can't wait for the next 5-10 years to be over and for decent broadband performance to be the norm 😞

Frequent Contributor
Frequent Contributor

Peter...you make many excellent salient "reply" points.  I would add that the biggest hassle with most HFC NBN Optus customers is that the new service is often inferior to the old HFC network in terms of consistent high speeds if one has the top tier speed pack (as I've written about with my own Optus woes here).  You and I both know that this is because Optus have just not bought and provisioned enough bandwidth to service this huge uptake of the NBN due to customers being kicked off the old cable system.  To me it seems Optus were in a mad rush to secure their customer base FIRST and only now are they realising they often can't supply the top speeds they advertise during the evening peak.  It reminds me of the marketing of the "Tucker" automobile.  Preston Tucker went on a wild customer gathering spree offering customers the chance to buy part of the vehicle they wanted to buy and promising the car would be produced and delivered when production ramped up to speed "within weeks".  It soon became evident he was taking customer's money and often delivering the part but he had no hope of delivering the cars.  He went broke whem the customers twigged.  Salient lesson there, Optus.

New Member dylarr
New Member

Rohan, I have nbn FTTP on the Campsie POI. I have two providers provisioned on my NTD (one Optus, and another provider). The Optus one is pathetically slow at all times of the day. The other provider consistently provides throughput of 94/38.

 

This isn't due to my network or configuration. It's due to the poor management and lack of care by anyone at Optus which has allowed the problem to fester for months now.

 

I've finally been able to get Techncial Support to acknowledge there is an issue, but still nothing gets done. I was even sent an "Optus Speed Check" device (a Raspberry Pi), and the results from that show how useless the connection is. Still, I'm told an upgrade is coming and it will take months, this is despite nbnco being able to provisoin addtional CVC bandwith in a matter of minutes.

 

Do you actually believe what you have written? Because for months now all I've seen from Optus is a lack of ownership and accountability for problems.

Frequent Contributor
Frequent Contributor

Welll put, dvlarr!

Honoured Contributor
Honoured Contributor

@TommyB

 

Hopefully not a portentious allegory Smiley Happy The difference here is that Optus could "ship the whole" car next month if they took the steps necessary. The lack of provisioning IMO isn't (in Optus case) down to profiterring. Optus just doesn't want to be the first major Telco to make the price hike necessary to reflect actual costs. I'm sure their experience shows that people look to price first, quality second (then complain about the quality). So if Optus hike prices then for the next few months existing and potential new customers would no doubt drift to other ISPs who offer unlimitted packages for less.

 

I'm hopefull the latest volley by the ACCC is meant to be a "cover" that means all ISPs will get the signal and need to jump around the same time (i.e. Optus will be happy to put its prices up $20 if Telstra etc. do so as well).

 

One things for sure, things are still in flux (For all stakeholders. I think there's a bit more rearraging of the deck chairs to go for not only the RSPs, but the government and us customers) The only mob I think are probably now just getting on with the job is NBNCo (No doubt having their own stuff ups but ultimately just trying to lay down the network as mandated.)

 

0.02

 

Peter Gillespie

Frequent Contributor
Frequent Contributor

Interesting observations @RohanGaneson but the one thing Optus could do to help customers is provide proper technical support as this is one other area where it glaringly lets itself down.  Over the last few days my NBN connection, provided over HFC, suffered from increasingly bad performance issues from Saturday evening and then on Sunday where the service was down 30% of the time, approximately 2 blocks of 10 minutes per hour.  See below.

I had to message tech support to call me on my mobile as I did not know when the service was going to fail again.  As part of the call I was told the service would be monitored throughout the day and I would be called in the morning if there was still an issue.  Well, this morning Monday, no service at all and no call from Optus to provide an update and it was still out at 11:00 am today when my oldest son left for UNI.  It apparently came back up after 1:00 pm and was working when my other son returned home.

Also I am still waiting for Optus to remove the old HFC cable that is still attached to my roof, along with the other old hardware from the previous connection which was decommissioned in April.  I rang them to remind them on the 14th of August and I am still waiting for a call back on that.  I just hope they don't break a tile qwhich happened at the install which they did not tell us about.

I still have to ring Optus back to ascertain what the problem was, the solution, and how they found it and also to arrange for a mobile phonecredit as I had to use this while the broadband service was down.


======================================
27-Aug-17 7:43:40 AM    Log Start
---------------------------------------
Failure Start          Length
27-Aug-17 8:06:01 AM    0:05:55
27-Aug-17 8:26:58 AM    0:06:16
27-Aug-17 8:49:11 AM    0:06:42
27-Aug-17 8:57:43 AM    0:05:25
27-Aug-17 9:12:47 AM    0:08:32
---------------------------------------
27-Aug-17 9:30:00 AM    Log End
Monitor Duration    1:46:14
Failure Summary:
    Count        5
    Total Downtime    0:32:52
    % Downtime    30.94
    Minimum Length    0:05:25
    Maximum Length    0:08:32
    Average Length    0:06:34
=======================================

=======================================
27-Aug-17 9:31:46 AM    Log Start
---------------------------------------
Failure Start          Length
27-Aug-17 9:39:44 AM    0:07:48
27-Aug-17 10:03:07 AM    0:06:50
27-Aug-17 10:27:09 AM    0:07:00
27-Aug-17 10:49:16 AM    0:06:35
27-Aug-17 11:18:03 AM    0:09:32
27-Aug-17 11:53:04 AM    0:06:16
27-Aug-17 12:17:12 PM    0:11:42
27-Aug-17 1:11:41 PM    0:06:56
27-Aug-17 2:14:03 PM    0:05:31
27-Aug-17 2:37:06 PM    0:09:24
0:09:24
27-Aug-17 3:10:37 PM    0:06:58

27-Aug-17 3:42:19 PM    0:06:16
27-Aug-17 4:08:47 PM    0:05:35
27-Aug-17 4:38:50 PM    0:09:34
27-Aug-17 4:57:32 PM    0:08:06
27-Aug-17 5:20:15 PM    0:12:10

---------------------------------------
27-Aug-17 5:41:31 PM    Log End
Monitor Duration    8:09:43
Failure Summary:
    Count        17
    Total Downtime    2:15:44
    % Downtime    27.72
    Minimum Length    0:05:31
    Maximum Length    0:12:10
    Average Length    0:07:59
=======================================

=======================================

Retired Employee RohanGaneson
Retired Employee

Hi @tbz, thanks for your feedback. Please accept our apologies – this is not the experience we want our customers to have. nbn has brought new challenges to the fold but we’re working really hard to improve the customer experience from point of sale right through to set-up and usage. We’re rolling out new systems this year that will empower our people at Optus to resolve problems the first time round and improve our customer experience.

Retired Employee RohanGaneson
Retired Employee

Hi @petergdownload, thanks for your suggestions. You’ve clearly been thinking about how we differentiate our products in an increasingly crowded nbn ™ marketplace. The new ACCC marketing guidelines that have recently come into force are definitely going to increase customer awareness around speed performance between nbn ™ providers; as a result the concept of your ‘Performance Plan’ is likely to be the direction we need to head in the future.

Honoured Contributor
Honoured Contributor

@RohanGaneson. You're welcome. Obviously the picture is far bigger than any single member can appreciate. 

 

I was at a pub in Mansfield over the weekend and ordered a really nice sounding Thai Inspired Chicken Curry from the specials board. Unfortunately it didn't really meet any of those four criteria. I mentioned this as feedback when paying and the owner was really surprised ("We've sold 80 of those this week."). I wondered how many people would have ordered it a second time given the chance (Or to put it into Optus parlance "How likely would you be to recommend this pub to friends and family?"). Smiley Happy

 

I think Optus has worked hard (and spent lots) on its content approach, however many people's experience of actually accessing this content (Be it Netflix, Optus Sports, etc.) has been a disappointment.

 

Good luck with the second phase of the transition and look forward to seeing what further product and technology innovations Optus comes up with. Smiley Happy

 

Peter Gillespie

Occasional Visitor cjlc1829
Occasional Visitor

Rohan, what garbage are wanting us to believe. I have Fixed Wireless NBN, i look out my window and i see the tower not even 500mtrs from my house with direct line of sight. Nothing in between to interfere with signal.

 

New equipment etc my best i get is 0.57 or 0.53mbps afetr nearly 12 months on the phone to your support people still nothing has changed.  i even paid for my own tech to come out and he shook his head. So you are about the only one who hasnt given me your advice so i await it.

Occasional Visitor cjlc1829
Occasional Visitor

Did i mention that i had ADSL 1 with telstra and it was way fastethan this NBN.

Any chance i could go back to telstra please. Im also an Optus mobil Phone customer since

Optus first come to Australia.

Honoured Contributor
Honoured Contributor

Those speeds indicate a fault. Most likely with the NBNCo hardware. Optus should have arranged for NBNCo to have sent out technicians several times by now?  NBNCo should be able to run a diagnosis on the line and confirm the speed issue pretty easily. 

 

Its hard to know what your full story is (and probably better to post you're own question in the Yes Crowd instead). But if your speeds are that slow consistently Optus will almost certainly let you end your contract without penalty. Unfortunately if the issue is with NBN hardware then reconnecting to Telstra will see the issue return.

 

Regards

 

Peter Gillespie

About the Author
Hi I’m Rohan, Managing Director of Customer at Optus. I’m responsible for leading customer acquisition, customer service and customer experience across digital, retail, field and contact centre operation, serving over nine million consumers. I originally joined Optus as the MD of Small to Medium Business but moved into the MD of Customer role in April 2015.