In recent years the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has had a sharp focus on broadband speed. Following consultation, the ACCC published guidance principles earlier this year to help ensure retail service providers don’t mislead consumers under the Australian Consumer Law regarding broadband speeds.

And now it is enlisting people power to join in the fight against misleading broadband speeds claims by calling on volunteers to sign up to the ACCC’s new program to measure and compare broadband speeds.

ACCC’s concerns regarding advertised broadband speeds

The ACCC has expressed concerns that many consumers feel frustrated and dissatisfied with fixed broadband services that do not deliver the advertised peak speeds. In fact, the monitoring of broadband speed and performance claims is one of the ACCC’s key enforcement and compliance priorities for 2017.

To put this in context, here are some quick facts:

  • Australian consumers’ annual spend on fixed broadband services is over $4 billion;
  • in 2016, the ACCC found that 80% of consumers wanted broadband speed information to be presented in a simpler format; and
  • the complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman about internet speeds increased by 48% during 2015 to 2016.

What does the ACCC program aim to do?

The Commonwealth Government announced that it would fund a new broadband performance monitoring program. The ACCC has invited Australians to volunteer for its new program to measure and compare broadband speeds. Households have till the end of the month to apply to be part of the program.

The program will install hardware-based devices in around 4,000 households over four years. These devices will perform remote testing to determine typical speeds on fixed-line NBN services at various times throughout the day.

This program aims to deliver transparent consumer information about typical broadband speeds and performance at various times throughout the day. It will also help the ACCC to decide if poor speeds at peak times are due to the performance of the NBN or the internet service providers’ network management decisions.

What does this mean?

The program coincides with the recent ramping up of the roll-out of the nbn™ network – with nbn™ announcing earlier this month that one in two Australians are now able to connect to the nbn™ network.

The program underscores the importance of both the ACCC and consumers in the evolving landscape and that consumer influence can have a significant impact in shaping telecommunications policy.

You can apply to be part of the program until the end of July 2017 (the closing date for initial applications).