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  • ACCC acts on NBN internet speed complaints
  • 03/05/2017 Make a Comment
  • Contributed by: MrNatural ( 10 articles in 2017 )
The national consumer watchdog has said the National Broadband Network must provide details of all known internet speed problems affecting every home nationwide, in a bid to prevent retailers from gouging consumers by selling fast connections which don’t exist.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has said NBN Co should advise users of “known impairments and limitations” of its services that cause slow speeds and that information should be provided to consumers on a “per premise basis”.

“Consumers should be informed of the factors that are likely to affect the performance of their broadband service and therefore their purchasing decisions,” the ACCC writes.

The statements follow reports that many NBN users across the country are being sold internet connections which deliver speeds at a fraction of that advertised, because retail providers are failing to buy enough “bandwidth” or because super fast connections are not available in their area.

ALP spokesman for regional communications Stephen Jones — also a member of the parliamentary NBN oversight committee — has written to the ACCC seeking legal clarity.

NBN Co, which provides wholesale NBN connections, and retailers such as Telstra and Optus, which buy those connections and sell them to consumers, have been locked in fierce dispute arguing the other party was responsible for slow speeds.

The ACCC has now made clear NBN Co must inform retailers of any problems with specific homes or areas which cause slow speeds, and retailers must relay this to consumers.

“This stops the selling of bodgy products,” Mr Jones said yesterday. “You cannot sell a product that you cannot deliver.”

The NBN sells wholesale packages to retailers based on “tiers” of 25Mbs, 50Mbs or the super-fast 100Mbs.

Most retailers then use those speeds in selling plans to consumers. However many fail to purchase adequate associated “bandwidth”, meaning actual speeds can plummet during peak times, typically between 5.30pm and 10pm on weeknights.

In other cases retailers are selling 25Mbs and 50Mbs packages to homes which have NBN connections to the “node”, meaning the last leg of the connection to their homes are conducted over existing copper lines, which in many cases can never handle those promised speeds.

ACCC chairman Rod Sims said the regulator was looking to rid the market of claims from telcos advertising misleading “up to” speeds, when actual speeds were far lower.

“Retailers can’t just say ‘you can get up to 100Mbs’, you have to be saying what the typical speed is at peak times and at off peak times,” Mr Sims said.

Most telcos continue to widely advertise “up to” speeds — as they have for several years — and the ACCC is yet to take action against a single perpetrator.

Mr Sims said the regulator was undertaking a process of “engagement” with retailers and its “enforcement” approach would come later if needed.

NBN Co said it had a “service portal” system where retailers could obtain an estimate of the speeds potential customers could expect under the NBN.

When asked whether they accessed the portal and if so whether they reported that information to customers, both Telstra and Optus declined to respond.


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