Vodafone plans to combat NBN problems

Vodafone's "instant connect" feature allows customers to access the mobile network while waiting for installation of the NBN. Photo: Bloomberg
Vodafone's "instant connect" feature allows customers to access the mobile network while waiting for installation of the NBN. Photo: Bloomberg

Liverpool residents have submitted a high volume of complaints about the NBN since it first rolled out here.

One of the general problems voiced by NBN users included stretches of time without internet due to outages or connection delays.

And although in many cases providers have advised customers it may only take a matter of days to install there have been times when it can take weeks and, in rare cases, months.

On a closed community Facebook page, one resident said: “Just moved from Wattle Grove to an NBN only area. Experience has been poor, organised five weeks before only to be told it was cancelled two days after moving into the new house. For three weeks we’ve tried organising connection but both NBN and the provider and blaming each other. I would recommend staying on adsl2 or cable and and get speed packs.” 

Vodafone Hutchison Australia launched its fixed-line NBN service last Monday and have said they will offer initiatives as a result of feedback from trials.

General manager of broadband services Matthew Lobb said these included an automatic 4G back-up sim for customers concerned about outages. The new plan provides automatic access to Vodafone's 4G network whenever there are connection  faults on the line for up to 30 days during connection or line repairs.

“Liverpool  is one of the more advanced NBN areas. It’s connected to a number of premises so it’s a great time for south-west Sydney to assess options. We’ve had trials over the last few months in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra. The main feedback is the customers appreciate 4G backup.

“Most Australians have bad customer experience when it comes to broadband. That's why we’re embedding that 4G capability. We have a big market share in mobiles in Liverpool and want to give customers more choice,” he said.

“We’ve spent a lot of time speaking to customers and what they want is an easy connection and a reliable connection so we’ve spent a lot of time trying to change the game when it comes to customer innovation. With our 4G expertise, what we’ve come up with is a modem with an embedded sim card inside it so when you walk out of the shop you can take it home, plug it in and have instant connection. “Many customers love being connected but they get frustrated when they lose that connection and have to resort to a 4G dongle or use their mobile data to stay connected – we offer a 4G backup service and a device that automatically connects. It’s complementary.”

Mr Lobb said they found customers’ biggest frustration was delays and being stuck in a contract. “We want to back ourselves up and say you can love us or leave us so customers have 30 days to change their mind without any fees. All we ask is to return our modem.

“Charges are another frustration for customers and we wanted to take that complexity out of the mix. We don’t charge for installation and the modem is free. We’re also currently offering a three-month free promotion. So if customers buy our NBN service within the next three months, they get three-months free - and I think that deal will continue until the end of January.”

When we asked if NBN comes with more obstacles for renters, he said it does require landlord approval.

We contacted Telstra who told us they already offered similar initiatives with the Telstra Gateway Frontier introduced earlier this year. “The Telstra Frontier home modem with hybrid technology is Australia’s first all-in-one modem. Once plugged in it will connect a home to the internet in minutes, over 4G, without having to wait for the fixed service to be installed and switched on,” Telstra fixed products and services executive director Stuart Bird said.

“If there’s an interruption to the home broadband such as planned network maintenance, the gateway will automatically switch over to the Telstra mobile network in minutes.

​”Featuring the latest in Wi-Fi technology (Wi-Fi 802.11ac 4X4) to increase in-home Wi-Fi speeds up to four times compared with the previous generation of our gateway technology (when using AC-compatible devices), the Frontier significantly boosts signal reach as Australians embrace video streaming on smart TVs and mobile screens.”​

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