The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is calling on Australians to be part of a program that will measure and compare broadband speeds across the country.
Under the program, hardware will be installed in around 4,000 households over four years, beginning with 2,000 volunteers in the first year. The devices will do remote testing to determine typical speeds on fixed-line NBN services at various times throughout the day.
The ACCC said the broadband speeds program will also help it determine if issues relating to poor speeds at peak times are being caused by the performance of the NBN or the network management decisions made by ISPs.
Complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman about internet data speeds increased 48 per cent during 2015-16, making it the single largest issue for consumer complaints during the year.
“Australians spend over $4 billion 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,” said ACCC acting chair, Delia Rickard.
“The volunteers will be helping to produce accurate, transparent, and comparable information about the quality and reliability of the fixed line broadband services available in their area. This will lead to more competition and better value for money for broadband services,” she added.
The competition watchdog said it was also investigating examples of where ISPs may have misled consumers in relation to their broadband speeds and other issues related to consumer guarantees that may raise concerns under Australian Consumer Law.
On April 7, the federal government said it would fund the broadband performance monitoring program. The ACCC went to tender on May 30 for an independent testing provider for the program. The ACCC will finalise the volunteer panel around September to commence testing and provide the first performance reports by the end of the year.
The panel will comprise customers from several ISPs over a range of broadband technologies and different retail speeds and plans. The majority of the testing will be on NBN services but there will be some testing of other next-generation services and ADSL technologies in the early part of the program, the ACCC said.
Consumers can sign up here.