Telstra speed review reveals regulatory hurdle for NBN resellers

Why Telstra’s NBN speed review revelations should put other retail service providers on high alert.

By Leon Spencer
May 12, 2017

Clearly, this hasn't been the case for all NBN connections.

Telstra is now moving to provide more information and transparency for customers on NBN speeds, launching a new guide to help customers understand the factors that influence their internet speeds on the NBN.

The company also flagged its move to actively participate in a broader conversation on NBN speed guidance and measurement being coordinated by the Australia competition watchdog.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) began setting its sights firmly on local telecommunications and internet service providers earlier this year over broadband speed claims by Australian network retail service providers (RSPs).

The Commission released a new set of principles on 10 February, with the intention of helping ISPs stay in line with Australian Consumer Law when it comes to speed claims.

In April, the ACCC went further, revealing that it would finally push play on its plan to monitor the country's broadband speeds, following an injection of funding by the Federal Government.

According to the regulator, the program is expected to cost around $7 million to deliver over four years.

The program will use hardware-based devices to perform remote testing of around 4,000 households in a bid to determine typical speeds on fixed-line NBN services at various times during the day.

"This program will see the ACCC test and report on the typical speed and performance of broadband plans provided over the NBN," ACCC chairman, Rod Sims, said at the time.

"This information will assist consumers in comparing and shopping around, and checking that they receive what they are paying for," he said.

Further, Sims flagged that program will also allow the ACCC to determine if speed issues are being caused by the performance of the NBN, or network carrier itself, or by ISPs not buying sufficient capacity.

The ACCC's monitoring program is slated to commence in May, and will see the ACCC begin publishing speed data later this year as larger number of consumers move to the NBN.

If Australia's largest telco can make mistakes when it comes to the speed brackets upon which its customers should be placed, other RSPs are almost certainly going to run into trouble as well.

With the ACCC's broadband speed monitoring program kicking off this month, RSPs could find themselves coming under increased scrutiny over the network speeds being received by their customers, and whether these are in line with the products that have been bought.

Moreover, if a discrepancy is found, and an ISP is found to be in breach of the Australian Consumer Law, fines and legal action by the Government could follow.

However, if Telstra's example is anything to go by, there are steps that RSPs can take in order to minimise the potential for customers' broadband speeds to fall short of what their products promise.

Source: ARN 

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