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ACCC calls for better broadband speed info

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission wants to see consumers provided with better information about broadband speeds, to improve competition and consumer outcomes in the retail broadband market. A discussion paper calls for views on how consumer information about broadband speed and performance can be improved.

The ACCC is concerned about the current lack of clear information about broadband performance in advertising and other material available to consumers, and 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,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said. “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’, or just pictures in advertising of athletes or animals. 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.”

In the first quarter of 2016, there were 2,159 issues reported to the TIO about slow data speeds. It was the top internet complaint issue, and more consumers contacted the TIO about internet complaints than any other issue.

The ACCC considers that improved consumer information will minimise the potential for consumers to be misled, reduce consumer search costs, and assist consumers to make informed purchasing and switching decisions. This will encourage broadband service providers to compete on performance as well as price and inclusions (such as data allowances).

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

“The ACCC believes that it is timely to consider what further steps need to be taken in Australia,” Sims said.

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