Small broadband players leave giants in their wake

Giants Telstra and Optus have lagged behind more entrepreneurial players in a survey of the leading broadband internet providers, with Internode topping customer satisfaction rankings.



Internode, which was founded in 1991 by managing director Simon Hackett, received five stars for speed, reliability, billing and downloads in a Canstar poll of 2,500 people.


It led the field with an overall five-star rating, ahead of iiNet, Westnet and iPrimus, which each scored four stars.


Optus and Telstra’s Big Pond were both far off the pace, with each provider scoring three stars in every category, bar one – Optus’ four star rating for downloads.


The results will be of little surprise to many small businesses that have suffered from perceived poor service from the major telcos. Reports emerged today of negative submissions from Telstra and Optus business customers to the ACCC, which is currently holding an inquiry into the levels of customer service by the major industry players.


Canstar’s survey found that speed and reliability are common problems identified by broadband users, with respondents also unhappy about contract periods and plans.


Concern was also raised about a lack of choice in broadband ISPs and speeds as a result of where they live. Interestingly, it’s not just rural districts suffering these problems, but also those in urban areas.


Overall, men are more satisfied than women with their broadband supplier, with WA the most satisfied state. Baby boomers are the happiest with their broadband service, followed by generation Y and generation X.


Speaking to StartupSmart, Teresa Corbin, acting CEO of Australian Communications Consumer Action Network, says:  “It is no accident that the companies who came out the top of customers satisfaction list have either entirely or predominantly local call centres with local staff. Clearly they might pay a bit more for their staff here but they get that back in satisfied customers who stay.”


“The key message ACCAN has for ISPs is that we are entering a world in which internet access is a basic necessity for everyday life. It’s now a utility, like gas or electricity. So we are moving from a situation where ISPs were a technology supplier to a clued-in segment of society to being a service provider to the entire community, including seniors, people with disabilities and others with low computer-literacy skills.”


“In contrast to the big two, Internode, iiNet and Westnet seem to understand this and quite rightly see themselves as being in the service business.”


“The clear, comprehensive information they provide on their websites and innovations like having the option for a staff member call the customer back to avoid long waits on hold is commendable and demonstrates that it is possible to offer good customer service in the communications market.”


“It’s high time for the big two to learn something from these ISPs or they won’t be the big two for much longer.”


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