Australia: 80% confused by broadband offers

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) consultation on fixed broadband speeds has found eighty per cent of consumers are confused and want broadband speed information to be presented in a simple, standardised format to enable them to easily compare offers.

The ACCC has thus published principles to help ensure internet service providers’ claims about broadband speeds aren’t misleading under the Australian Consumer Law.

“The ACCC is concerned that the use of vague speed claims is not providing consumers accurate, comparable, or useful information. Four out of five consumers have trouble comparing broadband speeds and this is causing a high level of complaints, confusion, and dissatisfaction,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said. “Consumers believe they aren’t getting what they sign up for, and pay for, when it comes to home internet speeds. It is time the industry met consumer demand for accurate information about broadband speeds so consumers can compare offers and make informed decisions about their internet services.”

The ACCC has developed six principles to guide ISPs on best practice marketing when it comes to broadband speeds, including how to make a clear statement on the typical speeds consumers can expect during busy hours.

ISPs should make accurate information about broadband speeds available to consumers during sales processes and on their websites to help consumers compare plans, identify how various applications will perform (including video streaming), and provide customers with support if the service falls short of expected speeds.

“The ACCC has listened to the views of consumers and industry in identifying the fundamental areas of concern and developing principles by which to resolve them. The ACCC will now work with industry and issue more detailed guidelines to ensure they are able to use this framework to provide better information to their customers. It’s the first step of a longer-term plan to bring about meaningful change,” Sims said.

Greater transparency around broadband speeds will enable consumers to make clearer comparisons on product choices, further encourage ISPs to compete on speed and save consumers money.”

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