The so-called ‘public awareness’ campaign launched this week by the NBN Co and its CEO Bill Morrow comes too little, too late for tens-of-thousands of regional customers already plagued by slow speeds or beset with unresolved technical faults.

The 2016 annual report from the industry watchdog, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO), reveals that nine of the top ten postcodes for complaints about the NBN are found in regional Australia.

NBN Co is right to advise customers to make sure they will receive the internet speeds they sign up for, but that is cold comfort for customers already signed-up and suffering outside the major cities.

Those customers can complain to the TIO, but there’s not a lot the Ombudsman can do. It lacks the necessary powers to investigate consumer complaints against NBN Co and it can’t intervene in disputes between NBN Co and the retail service providers.

As a result, consumers are left with nowhere to go, even when they’ve lost their internet and phone for weeks or months on end.

“Bill Morrow is left defending the roll out of Malcolm Turnbull’s outdated copper technology that inevitably leads to slower speeds and more faults,” said Stephen Jones, Shadow Minister for Regional Telecommunications.

“But advising customers to double-check on service providers is a distraction from the broader inadequacies of the NBN and the government’s lack of action to correct them.”

“Speed is a major concern, but so too is reliability and the ability to get faults fixed within an acceptable time frame.”

“Consumers are bearing the brunt of this while Minister Fifield does nothing.  At the very least, he should increase the power of the watchdog to help consumers, get faults fixed and resolve disputes between the wholesaler NBN Co and the retail service providers.”