Aussie regulator calls for greater broadband speed transparency

Publishes discussion paper on how consumer information about broadband speed and performance can be improved

Australia's competition regulator and national consumer law champion, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), is calling for consumers to be provided with better information about broadband speeds.

This is in an attempt to improve competition and consumer outcomes in the retail broadband market.

The industry body expressed its concerns around the current lack of clear information about broadband performance in advertising and other material available to consumers.

Its chairman, Rod Sims, said it will look at steps that could be taken by the ACCC, industry participants, and others to help address the problem.

“Consumers are entitled to expect clear and accurate information about broadband services. At the moment, it is difficult for consumers to access accurate information as broadband advertising is not focusing upon speed and performance.

“Consumers are being presented with little information or vague claims like ‘boost’ and ‘fast’," Sims said.

"Consumers need accurate information about broadband speed and performance so that they can understand if what they are being offered will actually meet their needs."

Sims also highlighted that in the first quarter of 2016, there were 2159 issues reported to the TIO about slow data speeds.

Sims said it was the top Internet complaint issue, and more consumers contacted the TIO about internet complaints than any other issue.

In addition, he said with consumer demand for data increasing, Australia should have improved consumer information that will minimise the potential for consumers to be misled, reduce consumer search costs, and assist consumers to make informed purchasing and switching decisions.

“These issues have been considered or are being looked at in Australia and other countries due to changes in the market and consumer expectations," Sims added.

"This will encourage broadband service providers to compete on performance as well as price and inclusions (such as data allowances).

“The ACCC believes that it is timely to consider what further steps need to be taken in Australia."

As part of this call to action, it has also released a discussion paper that seeks views on how consumer information about broadband speed and performance can be improved.

Submissions will assist the ACCC to identify the best ways to facilitate improvements. The closing date for submissions is August 25.

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