Category: Broadband Providers

Reference Library – Broadband Providers

NBN to review pricing as part of image problem fix 0

NBN to review pricing as part of image problem fix

NBN chief executive Bill Morrow says a “land grab” by retail service providers chasing market share is misleading customers about the speeds they are paying for. The National Broadband Network (NBN) admits it has an image problem and is considering forcing telecommunication companies to guarantee a minimum level of service for customers as part of a review of its controversial pricing model to head off growing criticism about the project’s internet speeds 1 . NBN chief executive Bill Morrow said he was reviewing the pricing model for Australia’s $50 billion broadband network that could include measures to give disgruntled customers a better idea about the quality of the service they were paying for.

He said a “land grab” by retail service providers chasing market share 2 was misleading customers about the speeds they were paying for. “We have to take it seriously, it is causing reputational damage and it does need to get fixed and we are committed to working with the industry to get it fixed,” Mr Morrow, who will go on a charm offensive later this week to try and head off the NBN’s critics, told The Australian Financial Review . Mr Morrow said a review of the NBN’s pricing model 3 could include introducing “minimum assurance” standards for certain products, such as media streaming, to ensure customers were receiving a certain level of service. “What we are considering, and we are in consultation, is looking at a restructuring of the pricing mechanism,” Mr Morrow said. “I am sympathetic with the many smaller retailers, in particular, who say I am stuck in this price war and I can’t step up and raise my price to the end users. “So, we are thinking can we restructure the CVC (Connectivity Virtual Circuit charge) and the AVC (monthly access charge) to have a minimum assurance of a certain quality of product … do we introduce a media streaming product?” No pricing changes were imminent, but he said NBN Co was having initial discussions with broadband providers.

The CVC charge is the price NBN charges service providers for the bandwidth they want for their customers. The NBN lowered its its CVC charge $20 per megabit pers second to $15.25 in December last year. Under a new pricing model announced earlier this year, they will be able to achieve discounts based on how much CVC they purchase per end-user.

Telcos have complained that it was the NBN’s pricing mode that was driving up their prices. Mr Morrow is facing growing pressure to address complaints about the project, 4 which he said were centred around two areas: the slower-than-expected internet speeds experienced by some customers 5 and technical issues connecting premises to the network that were leaving some homes without broadband services for months. About 15 per cent of NBN customers have complained about their connections.

When asked if the NBN had an image problem, he said: “I do agree….it is partly our fault. It is partly taken out of context because 85 per cent of customers are fine with this. It is the 15 per cent that is a large number because of the volumes we are dealing with.

It is not just a lightly dissatisfied but a seriously dissatisfied service.” Mr Morrow argued that the number of complaints was rising as new network connections accelerated, but the overall percentage had fallen. It is activating about 40,000 to 50,000 new customers a week, which will increase sharply between now and the project’s completion date in 2020. The NBN has been swamped with complaints from customers about speeds that they say are lower than what they used to get on ADSL.

The industry has also come under attack for advertising “up to” internet speeds that are never reached. Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims said last week Telstra, Optus, TPG and Vocus could face legal action if they were found to have misled consumers about their NBN speeds Mr Morrow denied the slow speeds were created by its connectivity virtual circuit (CVC) charges making higher speed tiers unaffordable, but were the result of a price war by retailers which meant customers did not properly understand the type of service they had signed up for and whether the advertised speeds would be available at peak times. “Most of the marketing attention is on price, not what kind of speed you are going to get,” Mr Morrow said, adding that 75 per cent of customers did not know what speed they were on. “There is a land grab phenomena where retailers are chasing market share and classically during a land grab phase you get more discussion on price and less discussion about quality.” “Most of the retailers want to sort this too, but we want to educate consumers that when they talk to retailers, understand you have a choice and actually talk to them about how the speeds are going to work.” Despite the criticism, Mr Morrow said the NBN was “done pointing the finger” and he was working closely with retailers to address the issue. “We know the end user is more confused than ever about who does what and all they want is good broadband service.” He said NBN was working to address installation problems, particularly issues around an existing provider cutting off a customers’ service before they were connected to the NBN. He would not rule out slowing down new connections to “give people a better experience”, but said the 2020 deadline would not shift.

[email protected] reports.afr.com 6 References ^ about the project’s internet speeds (www.afr.com) ^ retail service providers chasing market share (www.afr.com) ^ review of the NBN’s pricing model (www.afr.com) ^ address complaints about the project, (www.afr.com) ^ slower-than-expected internet speeds experienced by some customers (www.afr.com) ^ reports.afr.com (reports.afr.com)

County broadband wireless program to get boost with microcell towers 0

County broadband wireless program to get boost with microcell towers

ANGELICA – The county’s wireless broadband project has four subscribers less than two months before work has to be done, but officials expect the situation to change shortly. The Allegany County Board of Legislators voted 13-1 to enter into lease agreements with seven area fire departments: Andover, Rushford, Oramel, Short Tract, Wiscoy-Rossburg, Belfast and Cuba fire departments; AT&T, Auxiliary Campus Enterprises & Services at Alfred State College and WXXI Public Broadcasting Council. Those agreements would allow the county to install smaller “microcell” equipment on existing towers owned by the entities, allowing better service for areas not served directly by one of the county’s 13 main towers.

Two last-mile providers may connect customers to the system, Win-Win Wireless of Houghton and, more recently, Tel Star Inc. of Varysburg. Win-Win has signed up a handful of customers only, said Legislator Phil Curran, R-Alfred Station, who also chairs the Allegany County Telecommunications Development Corp.

board of directors, but said that was only because the system was unable to connect to all the towers in the county. “There’s four right now, but in the next week the system should be entirely operable,” Curan said. On Wednesday, the county’s planning and economic development committee learned that connections to the Corbin Hill tower near Belmont — currently the only one operational — will soon be able to connect through new towers in Alma and Angelica. Once those towers are online, officials said the network will be able to add subscribers countywide.

Initial speed tests of the system were promising this spring, with a download rate of about 10 megabits per second. That speed is on par with a typical cable modem — and about 400 times faster than a dial-up modem, based on 1980s technology which is still the only option for some rural residents. The only real requirement for connecting to the system is a clear line of sight from the tower to the subscriber, which is more of a problem in the southern part of the county.

The microcell towers, which are 65 to 80 feet tall and consist of a single pole with transceiver equipment for local connections, will connect to the main towers in areas that have limited line of sight to the main towers. A microcell would likely go in a small hamlet with dozens of potential customers. More from this section Several municipalities will see broadband construction projects beginning within a few years thanks to a flurry of grants approved earlier this year for land telephone operators.

Those systems will rely on hardwired connections to homes and businesses, and some homes in those areas will still require access through a wireless system. The work was funded primarily with a $800,000 state grant in 2013, with the county providing $200,000 as a match for the grant. The deadline for the grant funds to be spent is Aug.

31, said Chairman Curt Crandall, R-Belfast, who told the board that the lease agreements needed to be authorized Thursday in order to meet the deadline. “There was a lot of leftover money in the grant because we came in under budget on rest of it,” Crandall said. (Contact reporter-editor Bob Clark at [email protected] 1 .

Follow him on Twitter, @OTHBob) References ^ [email protected] (www.oleantimesherald.com)

Ad watchdog urges broadband providers to avoid ‘tit for tat’ complaints 0

Ad watchdog urges broadband providers to avoid ‘tit for tat’ complaints

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has urged broadband providers to avoid making “tit for tat” complaints about competitors. Virgin Media recently complained to the watchdog regarding Sky’s adverts for its broadband services, arguing the claim that they were “super reliable” was misleading. 1 While the ASA upheld the complaint and ordered Sky not to show the ads again in their current form, it believes providers should not rush to make a complaint if they are unhappy about a rival’s advertising. Speaking to BBC News, a spokesman said telecoms providers must try to resolve the matter between themselves first and back up any grievances with evidence they have approached their competitor. “It is a ferociously competitive sector and a lot of scrutiny is given to competitors’ advertising, but we only act when there is a problem under the rules,” the ASA representative said.

The ASA’s recent ruling came shortly after Virgin Media, Sky and TalkTalk all complained about BT’s recent ads regarding its Smart Hub. 2 Rival providers took issue with the claim that the Smart Hub offered “the UK’s most powerful Wi-Fi signal” capable of reaching “some serious distance”.

The ASA accepted that BT had included qualifying text to back up this statement, but determined that the headline claims were “very broad and would be understood as whole-of-market comparisons”.

References ^ misleading. (www.uswitch.com) ^ Smart Hub. (www.uswitch.com)