The Commerce Commission is re-launching its broadband monitoring programme with a new overseas supplier and is looking for 3000 New Zealand households to take part.
Following an open tender process last year, the Commission has appointed SamKnows, a London-based company to run the broadband monitoring programme.
In December, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission appointed the company to run its broadband monitoring scheme. SamKnows also works with regulators in the UK, US, European Commission, Singapore, Brazil and Canada. The Commerce Commission previously had a broadband monitoring contract with New Zealand company TrueNet.
Telecommunications Commissioner Stephen Gale says SamKnows was selected out of six applicants to run the programme, which costs $2.8 million over three years.
“SamKnows was a standout applicant. It is considered to be a world leader in internet service performance, currently assessing broadband performance for about half of the world’s internet population,” Gale says.
The purpose of the monitoring programme is to provide an independent assessment of the performance of difference internet service providers, comparing their plans and technologies, in order to help consumers choose the best plan.
“Shining a light on actual broadband performance will also encourage telco providers to compete on performance and not just price,” Gale says.
The Commission is now recruiting for volunteers from around the country who are willing to accept a monitoring device.
“Volunteers will be provided with a Whitebox (similar to a modem) to plug in at home. The Whitebox will perform automated tests on a home’s internet performance at different times of the day. It will not record any personal information or browsing history and does not interfere with your internet service. A small amount of your broadband data will be used to conduct testing. However, this is expected to have little to no impact on testing volunteers.”
As part of its role the Commission is required to monitor the competition, development, and performance of telecommunication markets. It notes that under the Telecommunications (New Regulatory Framework Amendment) Bill currently before Parliament “it will need to specifically monitor retail service quality and provide consumer-friendly information to help consumers make more informed purchasing decisions.”
The Commission has previously estimated that it will cost $12 million over the three years to fund it works on developing a new regulatory regime following the new Act being passed into law. It has also suggested the telco sector might stump up another $1 million to support consumer representative groups.