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ACCC Cracks Down On Misleading NBN Speed Advertising

The ACCC has cracked down on “poor advertising” and released a “detailed guidance” requiring retailers to indicate typical minimum NBN speeds during peak periods, instead of maximum speeds during off-peak times.

The body has determined such a step to be necessary “because the current advertising around NBN products is poor, which is unacceptable in the context of a forced migration to the NBN”.

ACCC Chairman Rod Sims says:

“Around 30 per cent of NBN customers have been sold low-speed plans, with many not realising their internet speeds may not be any better—and in some cases worse—than existing ADSL services”.

“Many other NBN customers, while on higher speed services, experience lower than expected speeds during busy periods due to under provisioning of capacity by their retail service provider”.

The ‘Broadband Speed Claims – Industry Guidance’ stipulates “retailers should work quickly to identify faults and resolve customer complaints about the speed or performance of their retail services”.

If the retailer is unable to offer a timely resolution to a speed problem, the retailer should offer a refund, alternate products or provide the customer with an opportunity to leave the contract.

“While the guidance is voluntary, it provides a strong benchmark against which the ACCC, and more importantly the community, will judge the advertising of retailers. The ACCC will also be closely monitoring retailer compliance with the Australian Consumer Law”.

To supplement this, The Broadband Performance Monitoring and Reporting program will make public actual speeds achieved on the main plans of major retailers.

The guidance also lists some ‘standardised labels’ corresponding with various NBN speeds, which the ACCC suggests retailers adopt.

The guide is scheduled for review in twelve months time to determine its effectiveness.

It is said that the ACCC consulted “extensively” with “network providers, retailers, and consumer representatives” to prepare the guidance.

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