When choosing a broadband service on the NBN, you need to know how it will perform during the busy evening period, as well as if there are any limitations that will affect your specific connection.
We have published guidance for internet service providers on how to advertise broadband speeds for their fixed line services. Providers that follow our guidance will give you specific information to help you choose the right NBN service for your needs.
If a provider does not give you this information upfront, you can request it from them.
Providers must comply with the Australian Consumer Law, so can’t misrepresent their offers to you.
A provider following our guide will give you the following:
- information about the typical speed of each of their NBN broadband plans in the busy evening period (7-11 pm)
- the maximum attainable speed of your NBN service (once it is known) if your connection uses fibre to the basement or fibre to the node technology and is unable to achieve the off peak speed of the plan you selected.
A provider following our guide will also promptly fix speed problems and provide you with remedies where appropriate.
You need information on busy period speeds so you can:
- see how your service should perform at the times you are most likely to use it
- easily compare services between providers, so you can choose a plan that suits you
- identify if your service is not operating as it should.
Our guidance proposes four labels to show how different services will typically operate during the busy evening period between 7.00pm and 11.00pm.
The labels indicate the following speeds that are typically delivered:
- Basic Evening Speed—this is the entry level plan for basic internet needs. Ask your provider what their plan using this label is suitable for. If you are moving to the NBN on a plan with this label you may experience a small increase or decrease in speed, depending on how good your existing connection is (e.g. existing copper/ADSL technologies provide a range of speeds).
- Standard Evening Speed—plans using this label will deliver a minimum speed of 15Mbps during the busy period. This plan would support a typical usage profile of residential customers (e.g. streaming one high definition movie at the same time as web browsing on another device during the busy period)
- Standard Plus Evening Speed—plans using this label will deliver a minimum speed of 30Mbps during the busy period. This plan would be suitable for a higher usage profile (e.g. streaming an ultra-high definition movie and streaming music on one or more other device during the busy period)
- Premium Evening Speed—plans using this label will deliver a minimum speed of 60Mbps during the busy period. This plan would be suitable for a higher usage profile than Standard Plus (e.g. streaming an ultra-high definition movie at the same time as gaming on other devices during the busy period).
If a provider does not use these labels you should ask how its services will operate during the busy period, and which plan best suits your needs.
All plans will also have a maximum theoretical off peak speed that your provider has purchased from the NBN (e.g. 12Mbps, 25 Mbps, 50 Mbps or 100 Mbps). This limits how fast your plan can go at any time of the day, even when the network is not busy, and applies across all technologies used in the NBN.
Some broadband services will not be able to achieve the maximum speeds that are generally on offer due to technical factors out of the provider’s (and consumer’s) control. These speed limitations are most likely to affect consumers using NBN technology that relies on copper wiring to deliver their broadband internet to their home (e.g. fibre to the basement/fibre to the node based services). Providers should make this clear in their advertising.
You can find out what NBN technology you are using by going to the NBN website and entering your address.
If your line has a limited maximum speed, the provider should tell you either at the time you sign up if the provider has that information, or as soon as the information becomes available to the provider. This way you can ensure you have the best service for your needs, taking into account the capability of your line.
If a provider sells you a service with a specified maximum speed that your line cannot deliver in full because the maximum speed was not known at the time of sale, the provider needs to quickly address that. Once the provider gets this information, they should let you know any limitation on the maximum speed your line can deliver during off peak times and offer an appropriate remedy.
Some consumers have been sold broadband services with advertised maximum speeds that cannot be achieved.
In late 2017 and early 2018, we accepted court-enforceable undertakings from eight internet service providers who admitted they likely misled consumers about broadband speeds and offered to compensate affected consumers.
In particular, these providers promoted and offered NBN speed plans as being capable of delivering specified maximum speeds. However, limitations on the affected customers’ NBN fibre to the node (FTTN) or fibre to the building (FTTB) internet connections meant that many customers’ internet services were not capable of receiving the maximum advertised speeds of the plans.
As a result of the undertakings, affected customers may be entitled to:
- a costless exit from their contract (including any bundle) and a refund
- moving to a different speed plan and receiving a refund
remaining on their current speed plan and not receiving a refund.
More information about the undertakings is available at:
- Telstra offers to compensate 42,000 customers for slow NBN speeds
- Optus to compensate customers for slow NBN speeds
- TPG to compensate customers for slow NBN speeds
- iiNet and Internode to compensate customers for misleading NBN speed claims
- Dodo, iPrimus and Commander to compensate over 5000 customers
A provider that follows our guide will quickly diagnose and fix a speed problem related to your service once you report it to them. Your provider is responsible for resolving issues with NBN services on your behalf as they have bought a service from the NBN.
If the problem cannot be quickly fixed and your provider is responsible for the issue (i.e. it is not a fault with wiring or equipment in your home), your provider should offer you an appropriate remedy such as:
- billing reductions
- change of plan
- cost-free contract exit.
If you have a complaint about your broadband service you should first try and resolve it with your provider. If you cannot resolve the problem, you can lodge a complaint with the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman.