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In July the ACCC released a discussion paper on telco industry claims to consumers about broadband speeds.

Broadband speed claims is an issue that ACCAN members and consumers regularly express frustration about. They can be confusing and misleading, because they often do not match the speeds services can actually achieve in real-world conditions. ACCAN welcomes the ACCC investigation into this area and believes that further guidelines for retail service providers (RSPs) are needed to improve advertising practices. Standardised comparable information on actual predicted performance to assist consumers navigate the market. The proposed Broadband Performance Monitoring and Reporting Program, which aims to test service performance, is needed to support and verify the claims made by RSPs.

Greater information around broadband performance is important for consumers for these reasons:

  1. It will help them to compare products in order to choose the service that best suits their needs. Descriptions currently used, such as ‘fast’, or ‘up to’, do not offer the consumer the ability to compare actual performance and match their usage needs in a rational way. Greater information will help inform decision making, especially when considering switching products to obtain improved services.
  2. It will help enable fault diagnosis when problems are encountered and help identify whether a fault is systemic to the home, access, or upstream network.
  3. To help consumers seek recourse when the service does not meet expected standards and for easier compliance with Australian Consumer Law rights.

Further information made available to consumers on the speed and other performance claims of service providers should, ideally, meet these objectives.

The term ‘speed’ is used synonymously to describe performance of a service. A number of issues that consumers encounter are often described as ‘speed’ issues, the solution to which is often posed to be faster speeds. This, however, is not reflective of all issues with services encountered. ACCAN asserts that both information on the broadband service, including average speed and peak speed, and the internet service, for example, information related to network peers and connections, needs to be presented to consumers. Information on any prioritisation over the network that occurs should also be presented to consumers.

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