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ACCC Could Take Major Telcos To Court

Telstra, Optus, TPG and Vocus may be taken to court by the ACCC over misleading NBN speed claims.

In an interview with the ABC’s AM, ACCC chairman Rod Sims said legal action could potentially be launched by the end of the year if the watchdog finds that telcos have been misleading customers about the speeds achievable on the NBN.

Sims told AM that the ACCC will be specifically focusing on the major telcos, and that it expects to “have a few cases in court by the end of the year”.

NBN speeds were also a major part of Sims’ speech at the Communications Day Unwired Revolution Conference in Sydney today.

“The move to the NBN and the way in which NBN technologies work mean retailers need to dramatically re-think the way they talk about typical speeds and ensure consumers are presented with the information they need,” Sims told the conference.

This will require telcos to be more transparent with the NBN speeds they advertise, Sims said.

“We want to see consumers presented with information based on the realistic speeds they can expect to experience, particularly during busy periods, not best-case scenarios.”

The ACCC is implementing its own broadband monitoring program to provide consumers with additional information about NBN services in their area.

Data gathered in the program will also help the ACCC determine whether speed issues are caused by the performance of the NBN or by providers not buying enough capacity.

Commenting on the overall telecommunications market, Sims said that developments like Vodafone’s plan to offer broadband services, and in particular TPG’s plan to build its own mobile network, are “to be welcomed, encouraged, and, as much as possible, retained over the longer term”.

“Having competing mobile networks that differ from each other in terms of price, coverage, technology, and quality can only be a good thing for consumers,” Sims said.

“In a dynamic market, a network provider may have superior coverage or technology that gives it a competitive advantage over its rivals. But this is in constant flux and network operators must engage in competition by investing in network expansion and technologies, as well as content.”

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