Your crappy broadband could make life easier for other Australians

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has begun seeking volunteers to participate in its broadband performance monitoring program.

The ACCC this morning issued the call for volunteers, with the consumer watchdog planning to install hardware-based monitoring systems in some 4000 households.

“Australians spend over 4 billion dollars per year on fixed broadband services and currently many consumers are left angry, frustrated, and dissatisfied by services that don’t deliver the peak speeds that are promised,” ACCC acting chairperson Delia Rickard said in a statement.

The results of the program will be made public, allowing consumers to more easily compare the value and performance of broadband services in their local area, Rickard said.

Complaints about telcos surged in the second half of 2016, according to figures released last month by the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman. Complaints about Internet services, which represented 37 per cent of all complaints, soared by 53.6 per cent.

Last month the ACCC begun seeking a testing partner for the monitoring program. The $7 million, four-year Broadband Performance Monitoring and Reporting (BPMR) program is based on a 2015 pilot the ACCC ran in Melbourne.

The ACCC has indicated that the broadband connection types, RSPs and plans tested will be ‘phased’ over the life of the program. The initial focus will be on National Broadband Network services, along with some legacy broadband services for benchmarking.

The program is expected to involve eight to 10 RSPs in its first year, growing to 11-13 by year four.

In addition to download and upload speeds, metrics that the ACCC expects to be monitored will include webpage load time, latency, packet loss, jitter (via VOIP emulation) and DNS response times.

“The program will allow the ACCC to determine if issues are being caused by the performance of the NBN or by ISPs not buying sufficient capacity,” Rickard said.

The acting ACCC head said that the organisation is currently investigating cases where Internet service providers may have misled consumers about potential broadband speeds.

The ACCC recently released guidelines for retail service providers about making broadband performance claims.

Telstra has revealed that a small number of its customers with NBN services were on plans with maximum speeds that were not achievable. The company is reimbursing the affected customers.

Prospective participants in the ACCC’s broadband monitoring program can register their interest online.


Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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