Rural web users urged to volunteer for ACCC internet speed program

Gladys Abbott
June 19, 2017

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

Under the program, hardware-based monitoring devices will be installed in around 4000 households over four years, starting with around 2000 volunteers for the first year.

The ACCC has assured consumers what they search via the internet will not be logged during the investigation and that broadband delivered by mobile, wireless or satellite will not be included. The devices will perform remote testing to determine typical speeds on fixed-line NBN services at various times throughout the day.

Teresa Corbin, CEO of the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) said clearer information was needed to differentiate between theoretical speeds and what could actually be achieved.

Volunteers can sign up to the new program until the end of April.

"These are often advertised using terms like "speeds up to" which are confusing and do not reflect the actual speeds a consumer can expect from the service".

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"The ACCC is now 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", Ms Richard said.

Amaysim commercial director of broadband Rob Appel says the launch is in response to NBN Co recently revealing that less than half of the five million homes and businesses that are now NBN ready have actually signed up to the service, "mostly due to cost and complexity".

A spokesman for NBN Co said it supported "any initiative that promotes transparency on retail speeds" available on its network and was working in collaboration with retail service providers "to help educate consumers and business owners".

"An ACCAN survey conducted in 2016 found that almost 70 per cent of respondents had unsatisfactory experiences with their broadband services", she said.

The latest complaints report from the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) has revealed NBN customers are among the least satisfied internet users in Australia.

However, the ACCC says it wants at least 16,000 households to take part in a bid to ensure they get a variety of residents from both cities and other regions who are connected via various technologies.

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