news The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has called for consumers to be provided with better information about broadband speeds.
Doing so could “improve competition and consumer outcomes in the retail broadband market”, it said.
To seek solutions to the issue, a discussion paper published by the regulator yesterday is inviting submissions on how consumer information about broadband speed and performance can be improved.
In a statement, the ACCC said is concerned about the current lack of clear information about broadband performance in advertising and other material available to consumers.
It has now made the decision to consider measures that could be taken by itself, industry participants and others to address the problem.
“Consumers are entitled to expect clear and accurate information about broadband services,” said ACCC Chairman Rod Sims.
“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,” Sims said.
Instead, consumers need “accurate information” about broadband speed and performance to better gauge if a service being offered will actually meet their needs, he said.
According to the ACCC, in the first quarter of 2016, there were over 2000 issues reported to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) about slow data speeds.
This figure made speed the most common Internet complaint issue, and more consumers contacted the TIO about Internet complaints than any other issue, the commission said.
The ACCC said that improved consumer information will minimise the potential for consumers to be misled, reduce consumer search costs and assist consumers in making informed purchasing and switching decisions.
Additionally, this will encourage broadband service providers to compete on performance, as well as price and inclusions such as data allowances.
“The ACCC believes that it is timely to consider what further steps need to be taken in Australia,” Sims said.
Australia currently has around seven million fixed broadband subscribers and a further six million mobile broadband users that could stand to benefit from improvements to the industry.
The ACCC’s discussion paper is calling for submissions on how information about broadband performance and speed can be improved, including views about factors that may be inhibiting retail service providers from presenting this information.
These submissions will assist the ACCC in identifying the best ways to bring about improvements, it said.
The closing date for submissions is 25 August 2016.