ACCC ‘guides’ NBN on how to promote confusing internet speeds

The ACCC has listed three strategies to ensure that customers get what they pay for.

fibre cable

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has handed down preliminary advice to broadband companies for fairer promotion of NBN speeds and services.

“A major problem we have identified for consumers in this market is the credibility gap between what consumers are told they’re getting and what they actually get,” said ACCC Chairman Rod Sims in his address to the Committee for Economic Development of Australia Western Australia (CEDA WA).

Mr Sims announced three strategies to ensure NBN customers get the service they’re expecting. These include:

  • setting up a broadband monitoring program
  • providing updated guidance to industry about truth in advertising and assisting their customers make properly informed purchasing decisions
  • investigating and acting on misleading conduct around broadband speeds, including practices that fail to meet the consumer guarantees provided under Australian Consumer Law.

“Combined, these three strategies will be game changers,” said Mr Sims.

The Chairman also believes that the publicity surrounding NBN failures is already encouraging providers to lift their game.

The monitoring scheme will help to gauge whether companies are providing the service they are advertising and will highlight any underperformance. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) not buying sufficient capacity will also be scrutinised and, to help improve services, independent performance reviews will be given to them.

The ACCC also hopes to begin publishing speed and performance data later this year.

The six principles that retailers should follow when advertising broadband speeds are:

  • consumers should be given accurate information about typical speeds that they can expect to receive during busy periods
  • theoretical speeds taken from technical specifications should not be advertised unless the typical busy period speeds are also included
  • information about the performance of promoted applications of the service should be accurate
  • any factors known to affect service performance should be disclosed
  • performance information should be presented in a manner that is easily comparable by consumers
  • retail service providers should have systems in place to diagnose and resolve broadband issues.

“We want to see consumers presented with information based on the realistic speeds they can expect to experience during busy evening periods – not just best-case scenarios,” said Mr Sims.

“We have outlined a common set of descriptive labels that reflect the four tiers of speed plans that are commonly sold to consumers. Importantly, these labels will reflect a minimum speed a consumer can typically expect from that service during the busy evening period.”

The labels would be known as basic evening speed, standard evening speed, standard plus evening speed and premium evening speed.

The ACCC will also ensure that providers comply with Australian Consumer Law obligations.

“We are investigating whether retailers are offering or have sold broadband services to consumers at maximum or off-peak speeds they cannot deliver, because we recognise the damaging impact these practices can have on consumers and on an evolving market,” said Mr Sims.

Many Australians are concerned that their forced migration to the NBN will mean they are paying the same for a poorer internet service. Mr Sims hopes that these strategies will allay their fears.

“We believe these three strategies will see dramatically improved advertising practices, better informed consumers and much improved consumer experiences,” he said.

Do you think these strategies are enough to ensure a quality product? Or do they merely make the NBN’s failings more transparent? Are you worried that you’ll get a worse internet service than you have currently?

Read more at www.accc.gov.au

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    COMMENTS

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    Rosret
    25th Aug 2017
    11:56am
    "Mr Sims hopes that these strategies will allay their fears." Its not a fear - its a reality!
    Just a tip don't pay that $10 a month extra for the old home phone.
    I made the mistake of making ONE mobile phone call from my home phone and they billed me "in advance" - not of going over the limit but of going over 50% of my entitlement.
    When the power went out in the storms last week so did the landline.
    The old landline phone may as well be packed up and thrown in the bin. (The telemarketers will be disappointed)
    Hawkeye
    25th Aug 2017
    12:09pm
    I am with iPrimus
    I have no problems with the NBN speed. I get what I pay for.

    I do, however, have a problem with capacity/bandwidth. I have a Fetch TV subscription included in my NBN deal, but there is rarely enough capacity to watch and record at the same time.
    I pay for their advertised capacity to watch one channel, record two other channels, and use the internet, all at the same time.
    HaHaHa!!! Not a chance.

    The ACCC should be looking at the capacity provided by the ISP's, not just the speed.
    Hawkeye
    25th Aug 2017
    12:11pm
    Forgot to mention I pay for "unlimited" data capacity.
    Roger-C
    25th Aug 2017
    8:42pm
    Bandwidth is speed. What you are describing is a limitation on your internet speed. There is no such thing as "capacity" outside of the bandwidth/speed.

    eg. If you have 20Mb/second access, and are watching something, it might use 5Mb/s of bandwidth. Then if you download something, that download wont be at the 20Mb/s speed, but at the remaining 15Mb/s

    For each download, they have to share the total 20Mb/s download speed that you are allowed, each one reducing in speed each time because your total download speed cannot be exceeded.

    When you say you are paying for unlimited data capacity, what you are talking about is the download amount, not the speed.
    Hawkeye
    26th Aug 2017
    12:45am
    Roger, you miss my point.
    The Fetch Box only requires up to 3Mbps out of the 25Mbps that I pay for.

    Trouble is the ISP's do not purchase enough capacity to cover the maximum usage of all their customers during peak times. So what capacity they do have is shared out among all their customers using the internet at that time. And when Fetch TV is involved, the peak usage is when a number of good shows are on at the same time. So each user is effectively throttled down to their current small share of the available capacity of the ISP, which is sometimes not enough to just watch one channel, let alone watch one while recording another two.

    Funny thing is that the OOKLA Speed Test consistently shows I get approx 23.5Mbps, even when Fetch can't display properly. One can only assume the "system" recognises the speed test and gives it priority to produce a good result.
    Hasbeen
    25th Aug 2017
    12:24pm
    I'm not yet on the NBN, but have a lousy service.

    I was with a small independent provider, & was quite happy. Then suddenly the service went to pot, speeds way down, drop outs, & loss of connection among the hassles.

    I then discovered my little independent provider had been taken over by iinet. My advice, avoid them, & their subsidiaries like the plague.
    Sevi
    25th Aug 2017
    1:09pm
    If you are connected to NBN it means your landline is now a VOIP system, storms turn off our computers and the landline phone so fast and sometimes it's several hours before we can come back to full usage. Whose brainy idea was this?
    DanielTech
    25th Aug 2017
    1:38pm
    As one of the fortunate people who has access to the original NBN, as started by the ALP, using FTTP/H, I feel for all the people who have to put up with the MTM (called "Multi Technology Mix" by the PM and his LNP associates, and called "Malcolm Turnbull's Mess" by people like me (I'm a Personal Computer and Network Technician), and my associates in the Technical world.
    I'm looking forward to the time when Gigabit and 10 Gigabit connections are available and affordable, over Optical Fibre, but the government has set that back a long way.
    I currently pay for 100/40Mbps and regularly receive those speeds outside of peak times. During peak times they drop down to about 90/36Mbps, which is still acceptable for me. Technologies such as FTTN and HFC, have been in use since the 80's and earlier overseas, and are very much outdated since the end of the 20th century, yet under the LNP we are only just getting them, as a stop-gap measure, and people are getting crap service.
    wendan31
    26th Aug 2017
    1:28am
    I have been on the NBN for the last 5 years (before the LNP came to office), the NBN connection is right outside my front door, we lost almost half our front garden while they dug their huge hole to set up the NBN for this area - NBN has been advertised right from the start as a super fast service, hence I was expecting great things, along with all the hazards of coming back to refix connections once the hole was filled in and we had planted our new garden over the top which was to be dug up, trampled on and killed once again - low and behold I have found that there is absolutely no difference with the speed, when contacting my server, Telstra, they tell me I am getting what I pay for, I pay $75.93 per month, this includes our landline, which has never been used as every phone call from it is charged at an exhorbitant cost - so please tell me what has NBN done for us.
    shirboy
    25th Aug 2017
    1:39pm
    I have been with Optus for about 15 years. I am entitled to unlimited broadband & no cost national calls from my home phone & no rental costs. Combined with my 5C mobile (which Optus gave me) plan(which I don't use much) I pay a little over $100 a month. I welcome comments.
    Rosret
    25th Aug 2017
    10:32pm
    So communication now costs you $1200 per year. I would imagine you need that speed - but it really is an unreasonably high price for all Australians.
    JoJo
    25th Aug 2017
    1:44pm
    My husband (who is disabled) and I live in a remote area in Far North Queensland, outside a small town. We have stand-alone solar power. We have no mobile phone coverage.
    We are generally not affected by power outages except when major breakdowns occur to phones and internet connections. When this happens it is so worrying. We are really concerned that when the NBN is connected, our landline will not be available in an emergency if the power is off in town - which happens quite frequently. This is very worrying for me and many other people in our area.
    We can't even ring to let people know we are powerless!!!!
    Greg
    26th Aug 2017
    9:05pm
    Our NBN system with TPG has a back-up battery so the phone can still work for around 5 hours
    Greg
    26th Aug 2017
    9:05pm
    Our NBN system with TPG has a back-up battery so the phone can still work for around 5 hours
    JoJo
    25th Aug 2017
    1:44pm
    My husband (who is disabled) and I live in a remote area in Far North Queensland, outside a small town. We have stand-alone solar power. We have no mobile phone coverage.
    We are generally not affected by power outages except when major breakdowns occur to phones and internet connections. When this happens it is so worrying. We are really concerned that when the NBN is connected, our landline will not be available in an emergency if the power is off in town - which happens quite frequently. This is very worrying for me and many other people in our area.
    We can't even ring to let people know we are powerless!!!!
    JoJo
    25th Aug 2017
    1:44pm
    My husband (who is disabled) and I live in a remote area in Far North Queensland, outside a small town. We have stand-alone solar power. We have no mobile phone coverage.
    We are generally not affected by power outages except when major breakdowns occur to phones and internet connections. When this happens it is so worrying. We are really concerned that when the NBN is connected, our landline will not be available in an emergency if the power is off in town - which happens quite frequently. This is very worrying for me and many other people in our area.
    We can't even ring to let people know we are powerless!!!!
    JoJo
    25th Aug 2017
    1:44pm
    My husband (who is disabled) and I live in a remote area in Far North Queensland, outside a small town. We have stand-alone solar power. We have no mobile phone coverage.
    We are generally not affected by power outages except when major breakdowns occur to phones and internet connections. When this happens it is so worrying. We are really concerned that when the NBN is connected, our landline will not be available in an emergency if the power is off in town - which happens quite frequently. This is very worrying for me and many other people in our area.
    We can't even ring to let people know we are powerless!!!!
    Bazza13
    25th Aug 2017
    4:10pm
    The ACCC need to ensure that the ISP,s buy enough bandwidth from NBN Co this is the issue. The company I am with Aussie Broadband have a monitoring process so that once they hit 80% of their capacity they buy more bandwidth from NBN Co. why cant the big players do the same they are just greedy, my Internet speed does not slow down.

    With regard to home phone (VOIP) on NBN FTTN people need to be aware that if there is a power failure the phone will not work. I have been looking for a solution for my elderly father who will have to move to the nbn in about 12mths, there does not appear to be one unless we pay several thousands of dollars for a fibre cable to be run from the green box in the street to his house then he will have FTTP and would then be able to have a battery backup which would allow the phone to work until the batteries in the green box fail.
    The advice i had from NBN is to have a mobile phone but he has very poor eyesight and would be unable to use one. The use of a mobile phone is also an issue for if the power is out for many hours mobile phone towers start to fall over when their batteries go flat as happened in S.A.
    They seem to have forgotten about people with disabilities, the elderly etc, why cant people who meet a certain criteria stay on the old phone system which still work in a power failure if you are using a conventional handset (not cordless).

    25th Aug 2017
    4:35pm
    “A major problem we have identified for consumers in this market is the credibility gap between what consumers are told they’re getting and what they actually get,” said ACCC Chairman Rod Sims."

    No shit Sherlock. Aren't we all so pleased that this guy is looking after our interests?
    Kathleen
    25th Aug 2017
    9:56pm
    Inferior NBN now being rolled out has no way to improve it. We have a substandard NBN which cannot compete world wide and we have to live with it. With a son in the industry we know it is what it is. Unless you have the original Labor NBN fibre to the home which no one getting it now has then it is a big disappointment and the government is wasting money on something that will need replacing in order to compete in the future. Another LNP mess!
    wendan31
    26th Aug 2017
    1:33am
    It was a mess from the very word go, long before the NLP came into office, we are living proof of it, we had NBN connected when that red head was in office.


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