news Telecoms industry body Communications Alliance, along with the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA), have together proposed a new industry guideline for firms making representations to consumers about the speed of their broadband services.
The organisations’ proposal comes in response to a discussion paper released by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) titled Broadband Speed Claims.
The ACCC paper, published by the regulator in July, invited submissions on how consumer information about broadband speed and performance could be improved.
The associations suggest in their proposal that retail service providers (RSPs) are “best placed” to communicate information to consumers about the broadband performance they can expect to receive – including taking account of the “wide range of different factors” that can affect service performance.
The associations said they would create the Communications Alliance Guideline in collaboration with government, regulators and consumer representatives.
Their submission discusses up the current impediments to RSPs being able to provide precise speed information to customers and argues that upload and download speeds are “typically not the highest priority” for consumers when deciding which service to sign up for.
It also provides some “context” to complaints about Internet services being made to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO), according to the two industry organisations.
Finally, as well as listing tools available to consumers to enable them to monitor the quality of their broadband service, the proposal casts doubt over the ability of a broadband quality monitoring programme (as proposed by the ACCC) to achieve its objective – warning that the result of such a program would be costly and “might in fact be anticompetitive”.
Since 2013, the submission explains, the ACCC has been considering creating a Broadband Performance Monitoring and Reporting (BPMR) programme that would install monitoring probes in customers’ premises.
The proposal states: “Many industry participants are deeply sceptical as to whether such a program can achieve its objective and believe that the ACCC is significantly underestimating the costs of such a scheme.”
It also says that the BPMR would “force Australian broadband prices upward and/or remove the more affordable broadband options”, putting lower-income consumers in particular at a disadvantage.