INDUSTRY CONTINUES TO BE CONCERNED WITH ACCC’S APPROACH TO BROADBAND SPEED CLAIMS

Sydney, 10 February 2017 – The Australian telecommunications sector has welcomed the decision by the Australian Communications and Consumer Commission (ACCC) today to craft more meaningful guidance to ensure that consumers have access to reliable information about broadband speeds.

A key reason why industry has struggled to meet ACCC aspirations in terms of broadband speed information is the restrictions placed on Industry by the ACCC itself. The existing ACCC guidance about the way that service providers can describe broadband speeds is flawed and acts against giving consumers advice that they can reasonably understand.

Industry has pressed for some time to have this poor regulation improved.

“Industry welcomes the opportunity to work with the ACCC to create a technically and reality-based set of service provider principles and consumer information that will help Australian consumers to better understand what they should expect from their broadband service”, Communications Alliance CEO, John Stanton, said today.

Communications Alliance and its members created a comprehensive broadband public education package in 2016 and are awaiting input from ACCAN and other consumer representatives before making this available through multiple channels to better inform consumers.

The principles proposed by the ACCC today (see below) were not discussed with Industry in advance and it is likely that that applying the principles will create some practical, commercial and technological challenges that need to be worked through. For example, the ACCC makes reference to the possibility of adopting the US FCC 80/80 speed measure which has not been tested using Australian data, may be impractical to implement, and is not easy for consumers to understand.

Industry also continues to be concerned that any centralised reporting program, as advocated by the ACCC, will not be scoped adequately to deliver information that can be relied on by consumers and Industry, and that the costs of such a program will be borne by Industry and ultimately consumers.

Communications Alliance encourages the ACCC to adopt a collaborative approach with Industry, to develop a set of arrangements that are practical and meet the interests of consumers and all other stakeholders.
Industry remains ready to engage with the ACCC in pursuit of practicable principles and guidance for the benefit of consumers.

The six principles proposed by the ACCC:

  1. Consumers should be provided with accurate information about typical busy period speeds that the average consumer on a broadband plan can expect to receive
  2. Wholesale network speeds or theoretical speeds taken from technical specifications should not be advertised without reference to typical busy period speeds
  3. Information about the performance of promoted applications should be accurate and sufficiently prominent
  4. Factors known to affect service performance should be disclosed to consumers
  5. Performance information should be presented in a manner that is easily comparable by consumers, for example by adopting standard descriptive terms that can be readily understood and recognised, and
  6. RSPs should have systems in place to diagnose and resolve broadband speed issues.
ABOUT COMMUNICATIONS ALLIANCE
Communications Alliance is the primary telecommunications industry body in Australia. Its membership is drawn from a wide cross-section of the  communications industry, including carriers, carriage and internet  service providers, content providers, search engines, equipment vendors, IT companies, consultants and business groups.

The most influential association in Australian communications, co-operatively initiating programs that promote sustainable industry development, innovation and growth, while generating positive outcomes for customers and society.  To create a co-operative stakeholder environment that allows the industry to take the lead on initiatives which grow the Australian communications industry, enhance the connectivity of all Australians and foster the highest standards of business behaviour.  For more details about Communications Alliance, see www.commsalliance.com.au.

Media information contact:
Sefiani
Neeley Williams nwilliams@sefiani.com.au
0434 742 551