Internet customers are regularly facing lengthy delays in getting their NBN installed or repaired because subcontractors are refusing tricky jobs to make more money elsewhere.
NBN Co delegates its work to major telecommunication infrastructure companies to manage the rollout of the network.
But associate professor Mark Gregory from RMIT said those companies then contract the work out to smaller companies.
“By the time you actually get down to the bottom, the mum and dad companies are getting paid very little,” Dr Gregory said.
“What that means is quality care is going to go out the window and we’re seeing the results of that now.
“For many of them the approach is simply to walk away and to try and say the job was too hard for them and to leave for someone else.”
Sub-contractors earning as little as ‘five bucks an hour’
Joseph Brown worked as a sub-contractor fixing the jobs that others regarded as “too hard.”
“If you just wanted a simple lead into the house where there’s no earthworks at all, you’d get paid about $80 [an hour] between two people,” Mr Brown said.
“But when you’ve got [to spend] a stupid amount of time to work on it, you’re working for say five bucks an hour.”
He said the low pay also meant tricky jobs were being rushed.
“They were resolved by brute force,” Mr Brown said.
“There’s damaged wires and things have been snapped.”
NBN Co said it required its head contractors to be responsible for the “professional and timely performance” of their work and their subcontractors.
It also said subcontractors should arrange written agreements to clarify “payment expectations”.
Over two-month wait for internet to be fixed
Tony Arnold, from Hobart, endured a 68-day wait to get his internet reconnected after a garbage truck struck a telephone pole, whiplashing the power and internet cables.
While Mr Arnold’s electricity was restored the next day, it took a week before someone attended his property to try to restore the internet.
“I just thought it would be a simple fix for him to come and reconnect the telephone line to the house,” Mr Arnold said.
“[But he said] he wasn’t allowed to do the job because of health and safety.”
Five weeks later, after multiple complaints to his internet provider and filing a complaint with the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman, another technician called Mr Arnold but explained the job was too difficult for him to fix.
Two technicians finally arrived at Mr Arnold’s home last week and restored the cables in only 45 minutes.
“No phone calls, no communications and I just couldn’t believe they were here to fix it,” Mr Arnold explained.
In a statement, NBN Co apologised for time it took to restore Mr Arnold’s internet, describing it as “unacceptable”.
It said it was working to improve how “problematic” orders are resolved.
Here’s ad in Manly Daily on the 12th August 2017 – Mick Raven