Two-thirds of eligible NBN-connected households are yet to avail themselves of refunds that could be worth hundreds of dollars, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
In 2017 and 2018 the ACCC accepted court-enforceable undertakings from major NBN retail service providers relating to the sale of fibre to the node and fibre to the building services. The ACCC found that RSPs had sold FTTN and FTTB services to households that had theoretical maximum speeds in excess of what a particular connection could deliver.
FTTN and FTTB performance can vary significantly between premises due to factors such as the length and condition of copper used to connect a dwelling. Thanks to the undertakings accepted by the ACCC, more than 142,000 customers were eligible for compensation from Telstra, Optus, TPG, iiNet, Internode, iPrimus, Dodo and Commander.
RSPs have contacted eligible customers offering options such as moving to a lower speed tier and receiving a refund based on the difference in price between the previous and new tiers, exiting their plan and receiving a refund based on speed differences, or remaining on their existing plan.
However, the ACCC said that so far only a third of those eligible have responded to the offers from RSPs.
“The ACCC is urging NBN customers to contact their NBN retailer if they have received a letter or email offer of a remedy, or think they might be entitled to a remedy,” ACCC acting chair Mick Keogh said in a statement.
Rules issued in mid-2018 by the Australian Communications and Media Authority now require telcos to perform tests on FTTB, FTTN and fibre to the curb (FTTC) connections to ascertain the maximum attainable speed of a line during a household’s migration to the NBN.
“Our message to RSPs is that if you advertise a particular connection speed and customers cannot experience that speed, you risk breaching the Australian Consumer Law,” Keogh said.
“We expect RSPs to provide consumers with accurate information up front about the internet speeds they can expect to experience, and then deliver on those promises.”
In 2017 the ACCC issued marketing guidelines for RSPs that pushed for an emphasis on the real-world performance of NBN connections, rather than the theoretical maximum speed of a connection.
The ACCC runs a broadband testing program that uses volunteer households to monitor the performance delivered by Australia's most popular RSPs.
The commission is currently working on a revamp of guidelines for making broadband speed claims, with the ACCC seeking to make it easier for end users to understand the likely performance of fixed wireless NBN connections.