ACCC calls on Australians to sign up for broadband speed testing

16 June 2017

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is calling on thousands of Australians to volunteer to be part of a new program that will measure and compare broadband speeds across the country.

The program will install hardware-based devices in around 4,000 households over four years, beginning with around 2,000 volunteers in the first year. 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.

“Australians spend over 4 billion dollars per year on fixed broadband services and currently many consumers are left angry, frustrated, and dissatisfied by services that don’t deliver the peak speeds that are promised,” ACCC Acting Chair Delia Rickard said.

“The volunteers will be helping to produce accurate, transparent, and comparable information about the quality and reliability of the fixed-line broadband services available in their area. This will lead to more competition and better value for money for broadband services.”

“Speed information is a key ingredient for consumers, and consumers are entitled to expect accurate information about services they buy,” Ms Rickard said.

The ACCC says the broadband speeds program will also help it determine if issues relating to poor speeds at peak times are being caused by the performance of the NBN or the network management decisions made by the internet service providers (ISP) .

“The program will allow the ACCC to determine if issues are being caused by the performance of the NBN, or by ISPs not buying sufficient capacity.”

“The ACCC is currently investigating examples of where ISPs may have misled consumers in relation to their broadband speeds and other issues related to consumer guarantees that may raise concerns under the Australian Consumer Law.”

“We believe it is crucial that consumers have access to information about the speed and quality of the broadband services they are paying for, especially as thousands of new NBN plans hit the market. We aim to be able to identify when consumers are not getting the service they are paying for, and help when shopping around for a new deal,” Ms Rickard said.

More information is available here: Monitoring broadband performance

To sign up, visit: Households wanted to help test broadband speeds. Initial applications are open until the end of July 2017.

Background

On 7 April 2017, the ACCC welcomed the Federal Government’s announcement today that it will fund a new broadband performance monitoring program to provide Australian consumers with accurate and independent information about broadband speeds.

The ACCC published a request for tender on the AusTender website on 30 May for an independent testing provider for the program. The ACCC will finalise the volunteer panel around September 2017 in readiness to commence testing and provide its first performance reports by the end of the year.

The volunteer panel will comprise customers from a variety of ISPs over a range of broadband technologies and different retail speeds and plans. The majority of the testing will be on NBN services, however, there will be some testing other next generation services and also some ADSL in the early part of the program.

The program will cost around 7 million dollars to deliver over four years. It will provide consumers with vital information to make efficient decisions in a market where consumers spend over 4 billion dollars per year on broadband services of fixed broadband service, along with the anticipated improvements to competition.

The ACCC’s broadband monitoring program will be similar to established programs in the United Kingdom  (2008), United States  (2010), Singapore  (2011), and Canada  (2016). Such programs have led to improved transparency of information and increased performance-based competition for broadband services. The ACCC has consulted and engaged closely on the proposed program with industry participants, consumer representatives and other stakeholders since 2013.

The ACCC successfully completed a pilot broadband performance monitoring and reporting program and published a report in 2015.

Notes to editors

In 2016, the ACCC found that eighty per cent of consumers are confused and want broadband speed information to be presented in a simple, standardised format to enable them to easily compare offers. In response to this, the ACCC developed six principles to help guide ISPs on best practice marketing when it comes to broadband speed, including how to make a clear statement on typical speeds consumers can expect during busy hours.

Complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman about internet data speeds increased 48 per cent during 2015-16, making it the single largest issue for consumer complaints during the year.

There are around 13.3 million internet subscribers in Australia, an increase of 4.2% from the previous year (ABS, June 2016). Fixed line data downloads increased 52 per cent between June 2015 and June 2016 (ACCC Telecommunications Report 2015-16).

If you have a complaint or personal enquiry about broadband speed claims, please contact the ACCC Infocentre or Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman.

 

Release number: 
MR 91/17
ACCC Infocentre: 

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Media enquiries: 
Media team - 1300 138 917
Mr Duncan Harrod - (02) 6243 1108 or 0408 995 408

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