Telecommunication complaints handling: July to December 2018 | ACMA

Telecommunication complaints handling: July to December 2018

This report looks at the complaints-handling performance of telecommunications providers for two quarters between July and December 2018.

In the future, the ACMA will publish this report quarterly, based on data collected under new record-keeping rules. These require providers with 30,000 or more services to record information on the complaints they received and how they handled them, and report this to the ACMA.

The root cause of complaints cannot always be readily attributed to the actions or inactions of specific retail or wholesale network providers in the telecommunications supply chain, or the performance of specific wholesale networks or access technologies. In addition, complaints are often complex and subjective. Accordingly, care should be taken when interpreting the results.

Key figures—December 2018 quarter

All complaints

number-of-complaints pngNumber of complaints

108 complaints per 10,000 services (up 10.2 per cent since previous quarter)


median-number pngMedian number of days to resolve complaints

6 days (same as previous quarter)


percentage pngPercentage of complaints referred from the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman to reporting providers

9.2 per cent (down 5.0 percentage points since previous quarter)


Services in operation

voice pngVoice (fixed voice and NBN voice-only)

4,143,233 (down 6.3 per cent since previous quarter)


mobile pngMobile

30,059,896 (up 3.4 per cent since previous quarter)


Broadband pngBroadband

6,947,300 (down 3.2 per cent since previous quarter)

Highlights—October to December 2018

The data provides insights in two key areas:

  • the number of complaints received by retail carriage service providers (reporting providers) including over the different networks they operate
  • the number of services in operation (SIOs) that are supplied by reporting providers across different network types, including over mobile networks, the National Broadband Network (NBN) and other fixed networks.

How many complaints?

For the December 2018 quarter, a total of 448,470 complaints were received by reporting providers compared to a total of 397,984 complaints in the September 2018 quarter (up by 12.7 per cent). In this report, we generally express numbers of complaints in the form of a ratio to the number of services, as different reporting providers have different numbers of services. The data is reported as ‘per 10,000 SIOs’. This approach enables comparison of data across reporting providers and service types.  

Relative to the number of SIOs, complaints about mobile services represent the lowest rate of complaints in the December 2018 quarter, while the relative number of complaints about fixed broadband over the NBN are 40 per cent lower than for non-NBN networks:

  • broadband over the NBN—199 complaints per 10,000 SIOs (96,607 complaints)
  • fixed broadband on non-NBN networks—331 complaints per 10,000 SIOs (69,182 complaints)
  • voice-only services over the NBN—490 complaints per 10,000 SIOs (13,508 complaints)
  • voice services on non-NBN networks—90 complaints per 10,000 SIOs (34,936 complaints)
  • mobile—58 complaints per 10,000 SIOs (174,562 complaints)

Reporting providers also received 59,675 complaints not categorised by service type. Complaints in this ‘other’ category include complaints about telecommunications services which are not listed above, for example, dial-up internet, email and website hosting accounts. 

How long did it take to resolve complaints?

For the December 2018 quarter, the median time (performance of the middle provider in the sample when sorted by time taken) to resolve all complaints was six days, with a range of 1–13 days across reporting providers. For further details, see Table 1.

What did customers complain about?

For complaints about broadband and voice-only services delivered over the NBN, reporting providers must sort their complaints into defined categories (see Figures 2 and 3 and Tables 5 and 6). The proportion of complaints in each category for the December 2018 quarter were:

NBN broadband

  • Faults (25.6 per cent)
  • Connections (10.4 per cent)
  • Speed (6.9 per cent)
  • Other (57.1 per cent).

NBN voice-only

  • Faults (34.6 per cent)
  • Connections (14.7 per cent)
  • Other (50.7 per cent).

Reporting providers also shared their top three complaint categories (by volume). For the December 2018 quarter, the top two complaint categories for most reporting providers were billing and faults, with approximately half of reporting providers having billing as their top complaint category. The third complaint category varied significantly between reporting providers and included reporting provisioning, customer service and quality of service.

How many services in operation?

A total of 41.4 million SIOs were supplied by 30 reporting providers in the December 2018 quarter comprising:

  • 30.1 million mobile SIOs
  • 6.0 million fixed broadband and fixed-line voice SIOs on non-NBN networks
  • 5.1 million broadband and voice-only SIOs delivered over the NBN
  • 248,000 other (not specified) services.

December data spotlight

  • mobile services generated the lowest number of complaints per SIOs with just 58 complaints per 10,000 mobile SIOs in the December 2018 quarter
  • there is a much higher number of complaints about voice-only services delivered by reporting providers over the NBN compared to voice services delivered on non-NBN fixed networks, (490 per 10,000 SIOs compared to 90 per 10,000 SIOs respectively)
  • the highest rate of complaints about broadband services delivered by reporting providers over the NBN involved services connected using fibre-to-the-curb (FTTC), 547 per 10,000 FTTC SIOs
  • for those reporting providers with greater than 500 complaints, the median rate of complaints referred by the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) to reporting providers in the December 2018 quarter was 9.2 per cent, down from 14.2 per cent in the September quarter.

NBN voice-only services: highest complaint rate

In December 2018 there were 490 complaints per 10,000 voice-only services delivered by reporting providers over the NBN, compared to 803 complaints in the September 2018 quarter (down by 39.0 per cent). Voice services delivered over the NBN rely on voice over internet protocol (VoIP) technology to a much greater extent than voice services delivered over legacy networks. See Figure 2 and Table 5 for more data.

Complaints about services delivered over the NBN

Complaints about broadband services delivered over the NBN (by access technology and per 10,000 SIOs) for the December 2018 quarter were (see Figure 4):

  • fibre-to-the-curb (FTTC)—547
  • fibre-to-the-building (FTTB)—246
  • hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC)—226
  • fibre-to-the-node (FTTN)—216
  • fixed wireless—185
  • fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP)—141
  • satellite—57.

FTTC connections recorded the highest rate of complaints out of the NBN access technologies. However, the data shows that the higher rate of complaints about FTTC connections in the September 2018 and December 2018 quarters was attributable to only a few of the 30 reporting providers. In addition, the first FTTC connections were completed just prior to the first reporting period, in March 2018. At the end of the December 2018 quarter, FTTC accounted for 1.5 per cent of SIOs delivered over the NBN. It may be inferred that the relative newness of this technology contributed to the high rate of complaints.

While only two quarters of data have been received, FTTC complaints declined 33.0 per cent from 817 complaints per 10,000 SIOs to 547 per 10,000 SIOs (see Figure 4). As the number of FTTC connections increases, the complaint rate for services delivered over the NBN using FTTC may decline further.

Complaints referred from the TIO to reporting providers

The ACMA calculates a TIO complaint referral rate by dividing the number of complaints referred to the reporting provider from the TIO by the number of complaints made to the reporting provider. Not all customers complain directly to their provider in the first instance and may incorrectly complain directly to the TIO. The TIO complaint referral rate is not calculated for reporting providers with 500 complaints per quarter or fewer as the sample size is too small.

For the 15 reporting providers that received more than 500 complaints in the December 2018 quarter, the rate of referral of complaints from the TIO ranged from 0.7 per cent to 48.8 per cent of complaints. The median TIO complaint referral rate for these reporting providers for the December 2018 quarter was 9.2 per cent, down from 14.2 per cent in the September 2018 quarter. The decline of 5.0 percentage points was a positive indication that reporting providers are more effectively resolving complaints (see Table 2).

Mobile services: lowest complaint rate

Mobiles represent the greatest volume of SIOs by service (30.1 million) yet received the lowest number of complaints per SIO: 58 complaints per 10,000 SIO in December 2018 (up 13.7 per cent from 51 in September 2018) (see Figure 1).

The data—July to December 2018

The following figures and tables comprise data provided by 30 reporting providers (those with at least 30,000 services in operation during the previous quarter) to the ACMA for the July–September 2018 and October–December 2018 quarters.

Figure 1: Complaints by service type (per 10,000 SIO)

Figure-1-sep-dec-2018 png

Table 1: Average number of days to resolve complaints

 

Sep 2018

Dec 2018

Minimum average number of days reported to resolve complaints

1

1

Maximum average number of days reported to resolve complaints

14

13

Median average number of days to resolve complaints

6

6

Table 2: Complaints referred from the TIO to reporting providers

 

Sep 2018

Dec 2018

Quarter change

Median complaint referral rate

14.2%

9.2%

-5.0 pp

Number of TIO complaints

30,759

29,579

-3.8%

TIO complaints per 10,000 SIOs

8

7

-1

pp: percentage points
Note: The median complaint escalation rate excludes reporting providers with less than 500 complaints during a quarter.

Figure 2: NBN voice-only complaints, by complaint category (per 10,000 SIO)

Figure-2-sep-dec-2018 png

Note: Complaints not categorised as due to connections or faults totalled 569 per 10,000 SIOs (70.8 per cent) of reported complaints) in the September 2018 quarter and 248 (50.7 per cent) in the December 2018 quarter. Complaints in the other category may include complaints about billing or customer service.

Download figure 2 data.csv

Figure 3: NBN broadband complaints, by complaint category (per 10,000 SIO)

Figure-3-sep-dec-2018 png

Download figure 3 data.csv

Note: Complaints not categorised as either connections, faults or speed totalled 121 per 10,000 SIOs (60.2 per cent) of reported complaints in the September 2018 quarter and 113 (57.1 per cent) in the December 2018 quarter. Complaints in this category may include complaints about billing or customer service.

Figure 4: NBN broadband complaints, by access technology (per 10,000 SIO)

Figure-4-sep-dec-2018 png

Figure 5: Complaints received, by number of reporting providers (per 10,000 SIO)

Figure-5-sep-dec-2018 png

Note: This chart shows, for the September and December 2018 quarters, the number of complaints received per 10,000 SIO for the 30 reporting providers, grouped into six complaint number ranges. For example, the chart shows for the September 2018 quarter that six reporting providers had complaints within the 1 to 10 range (per 10,000 SIO), whereas for the December 2018 quarter, five reporting providers had complaints within that same range (per 10,000 SIO).

Download figure 5 data.csv

Figure 6: Average days to resolve complaints, by number of reporting providers

Figure-6-sep-dec-2018 png

Figure 7: Time taken to resolve 80 per cent of complaints, by number of reporting providers

Figure-7-sep-dec-2018 png

Figure 8: TIO complaint referral rate, by number of reporting providers

Figure-8-sep-dec-2018 png

Note: This chart shows, for the September and December 2018 quarters, the TIO complaint referral rate (expressed as a percentage) for the 16 reporting providers that received 500 or more complaints from the TIO, grouped into six complaint referral rate ranges. For example, the chart shows for the September 2018 quarter that one reporting provider had a TIO complaint referral rate within the 6 to 10 per cent range, whereas for the December 2018 quarter, five reporting providers had a TIO complaint referral rate within that same range.

Figure 9: Services in operation, by service type

Fig 9 png

Table 3: Complaints, by service type (per 10,000 SIO)

 

Sep 2018

Dec 2018

Quarter change

Total

98

108

10.2%

Fixed voice

98

90

-8.2%

Fixed broadband

204

331

62.3%

NBN voice-only

803

490

-39.0%

NBN broadband

201

199

-1.0%

Mobile

51

58

13.7%

Table 4: Time taken to resolve 80 per cent of complaints

 

Sep 2018

Dec 2018

Minimum number of days to resolve 80 per cent of complaints

1

1

Maximum number of days to resolve 80 per cent of complaints

17

18

Median number of days to resolve 80 per cent of complaints

4

6

Table 5: NBN voice-only complaints, by complaint category (per 10,000 SIO)

 

Sep 2018

Dec 2018

Quarter change

Total complaints per 10,000 SIO

803

490

-39.0%

Connection

10.5%

14.7%

4.2 pp

Fault

18.7%

34.6%

15.9 pp

Other

70.8%

50.7%

-20.1 pp

pp: percentage points

Table 6: NBN broadband complaints, by complaint category (per 10,000 SIO)

 

Sep 2018

Dec 2018

Quarter change

Total complaints per 10,000 SIO

201

199

-1.0%

Connection

13.6%

10.4%

-3.2 pp

Fault 

18.8%

25.6%

6.8 pp

Speed

7.4%

6.9%

-0.5 pp

Other

60.2%

57.1%

-3.1 pp

pp: percentage points

Table 7: NBN broadband complaints, by access technology (per 10,000 SIO)

 

Sep 2018

Dec 2018

Quarter change

Fixed Wireless

191

185

-3.1%

FTTB

254

246

-3.1%

FTTC

817

547

-33.0%

FTTN

232

216

-6.9%

FTTP

136

141

3.7%

HFC

205

226

10.2%

Satellite

20

57

185.0%

Table 8: Average days to resolve complaints, by number of reporting providers

 

Sep 2018

Dec 2018

0 to 3 days

13

11

4 to 6 days

5

5

7 to 9 days

6

8

10 to 12 days

4

3

> 12 days

2

3

Table 9: Time taken to resolve 80 per cent of complaints, by number of reporting providers

 

Sep 2018

Dec 2018

0 to 3 days

12

10

4 to 6 days

5

7

7 to 9 days

6

5

10 to 12 days

5

3

> 12 days

2

5

Table 10: TIO complaint referral rate, by number of reporting providers

TIO complaint referral rate

Sep 2018

Dec 2018

0 to 5%

5

4

6 to 10%

1

5

11 to 15%

1

4

16 to 20%

1

0

21 to 25%

2

1

> 25%

4

1

Note: TIO complaint referral rates of reporting providers that fell between the percentage ranges in Table 10 have been rounded to the nearest percentage range. 

Table 11: Services in operation, by service type

 

Sep 2018

Dec 2018

Quarter change

Total

40,456,427

41,398,428

2.3%

Fixed voice

4,149,018

3,867,480

-6.8%

Fixed broadband

2,211,175

2,093,041

-5.3%

NBN voice-only

271,772

275,753

1.5%

NBN broadband

4,522,312

4,854,259

7.3%

Mobile

29,077,017

30,059,896

3.4%

Other

225,133

247,999

10.2%

Data collection

The data in this report is collected under the Telecommunications (Consumer Complaints) Record-Keeping Rules 2018. Data is provided by reporting providers who during the previous quarterly reporting period supplied 30,000 or more services in operation. Data must be provided to the ACMA within 30 days of the end of a quarter. Due to legal restrictions, the ACMA cannot publish provider names and related data.

Data quality

The ACMA undertakes validity checks on reported data, with any issues identified addressed by reporting providers prior to publication. Where a reporting provider receives less than 500 complaints in the quarter, the percentage of complaints referred by the TIO is not reported.

Last updated: 22 July 2019