NBN Co has admitted in a court-enforceable undertaking to the ACCC that it misled Canberra consumers who lived in areas where the NBN was operating into thinking that their telephone and internet services supplied over the TransACT Network would be disconnected if they did not move to the NBN.
Between January and 11 July 2019, NBN Co sent multiple letters to consumers and businesses across Canberra stating that they needed to move to the NBN or they would face the prospect of losing services. This advice was incorrect for more than 20,000 premises connected to the TransACT VDSL2 Network.
As part of the undertaking, NBN Co has committed to reimburse the early termination costs paid by consumers and businesses that moved to NBN Co before 10 July 2019, and then chose to return to the TransACT Network.
NBN Co has also undertaken to publish corrective notices in the Canberra Times, through a paid Facebook advertisement and on the NBN Co website, as well as to make a contribution towards the costs incurred by TransACT in seeking to correct the misleading communications.
“It is unacceptable for NBN Co to tell consumers on other broadband networks such as the TransACT Network that moving to the NBN is their only option, when that is just not correct,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.
“Moving to the NBN is an important decision and it can be confusing. Consumers should be able to trust that NBN Co is providing them with accurate information.”
“The ACCC will not hesitate to seek high penalties in court against NBN, and other telcos, if we see this type of conduct again.”
NBN Co has also committed to establish safeguards against repeating this conduct. This includes appropriately tailoring its disconnection communications in the footprint of competing networks that supply more than 1,000 services and keeping a voluntary register on its website of competing networks that will continue to operate alongside the NBN.
The ACCC encourages operators of competing networks to engage with NBN Co so that these safeguards will be as effective as possible.
A copy of the undertaking is available at NBN Co Limited.
The NBN is a wholesale-only broadband access network, being built and owned by NBN Co Limited.
Most consumers and businesses within the NBN fixed-line footprint will need to switch over to the NBN or lose their fixed-line broadband and voice services, generally within 18 months of the NBN first becoming available in their area. However, the TransACT VDSL2 Network in the ACT will compete with NBN Co and so customers on that network do not need to switch over.
Government has tasked NBN Co with educating the community so that the particular households and businesses that are required to switch over understand what they need to do and by when, and the consequences if they don’t act within the switch over period. NBN Co made the misleading communications as part of this program.
Further information for consumers on switching over to the NBN can be found on the ACCC’s website at Moving to the NBN for consumers.