The recent data from the ACCC’s Measuring Broadband Australia test units are showing daytime NBN speeds have not been impacted, and speeds are holding up well on most evenings, ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.

“It is clear that NBN Co.’s temporary boost in network capacity which allows RSPs to increase their capacity on the network by up to 40 per cent at no extra cost for three months is underpinning these encouraging results,” Mr Sims said.

Mr Sims was speaking via Zoom at the Comms Day Summit 2020: ‘Redefining Tomorrow. Together’.

“Despite serious issues when there was a massive increase in calls to some government numbers, mobile networks are handling the increase in volume quite well,” Mr Sims said.

“Retailers are increasing plan allowances or reducing excess charges to help their customers adjust, and they should be applauded for this.” 

Mr Sims said during the health crisis the ACCC was focused on the delivery of better communication services while maintaining long term competition and efficiency in the market.

“Last week we granted interim authorisation to allow the NBN Co and Australia’s five biggest RSPs, who together formed a special working group, to immediately coordinate on the significant surge in network demand,” Mr Sims said.

“We will want vigorous competition, however, to drive the recovery when it comes.”

Mr Sims that while the response of the communications sector has been encouraging, there are still some concerns about some services.

In particular:

  • Helping consumers without a working service get online, such as those consumers who have moved into premises not yet connected to the NBN.
  • Offering consumers flexibility so they can move to plans or services they will need over this period, and then shift back when their needs reduce.
  • Being open with your customers if you do need to put in place any service restrictions.

“It is very important consumers receive accurate advice to guide their decisions,” Mr Sims said.

“We still expect service providers to take reasonable steps to check the capability of NBN connections where consumers look to upgrade as some are doing during this period.”

Mr Sims said the communications sector always has a critical role to play in keeping people connected, and never more so during this unprecedented global crisis.

“It is not only important to protect the effectiveness of the communications networks but also to continue working on reforms that will maintain long term efficiency and competition post this crisis,” Mr Sims said.

“What will be fascinating will be the extent to which our world is permanently changed by the current crisis.”

“Both e-health and e-education have been much talked about for years but they are now necessarily being embraced,” Mr Sims said.