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ACCC:Wants Broadband Performance Monitoring

ACCC:Wants Broadband Performance MonitoringWith the ACCC today announcing completion of the program, ACCC chairman Rod Sims has commented on the benefits such a program could deliver to consumers.

“The ACCC believes a broadband performance monitoring and reporting program would promote competition and consumer outcomes by providing transparency over the quality of broadband services,” Sims stated.

“As the NBN rollout progresses, providing transparency over the performance of the monopoly network provider will be particularly important as retail service providers (RSPs) will be dependent on NBN Co for the underlying network capability.

“In this regard, visibility over any network-based performance issues would help identify whether any bottleneck issues in the network are attributable to RSPs or the network provider.”

Sims additionally noted that it is important for consumers to have information on how different broadband products perform at their disposal when choosing the option best for them.

“A broadband performance monitoring and reporting program can be designed to increase the available information about service performance, and thereby encourage RSPs to compete on the basis of service quality, not simply price,” he commented.

The ACCC’s pilot program – carried out by SamKnows, which operates similar broadband performance monitoring programs internationally, and Comdate – involved testing the home fixed-line broadband connections of approximately 90 Melbourne-based volunteers on various technologies over a three-month period.

A hardware probe was placed on volunteers’ home connections, with the probe running a series of network performance tests. The metrics tested included download/upload speeds, web browsing time, latency, packet loss, video streaming, jitter and DNS resolution, against which a range of results were observed.

The ACCC noted that there was “a noticeable trend in deteriorating performance during peak use periods, particularly in relation to download speeds”.

“The ACCC is greatly encouraged by the results of the pilot program, however a decision to proceed with a future program has not been made and any finalised program would involve further stakeholder consultation,” Sims commented.

“Similar broadband monitoring programs have been established in the United Kingdom (2008), United States of America (2010), Singapore (2011), and more recently, Canada. Such programs have led to improved transparency of information and increased performance-based competition for broadband services.”

The report can be found here.