ACCC plans to start monitoring NBN performance

Alex Kidman 7 April 2017

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The ACCC will start testing NBN speed claims to see if you’re getting what you pay for.

Broadband plans in Australia, and especially most NBN plans are sold on speed tiers, depending on how much speed you want. It’s still entirely possible to get plans that are sold with data quotas, but by far the majority of plans are sold on an unlimited download/upload basis. That leaves broadband speed (or at least potential speed) as a key criteria when selecting a plan.

But are you getting what you pay for? The ACCC doesn’t entirely think so, and it’s announced that it will start monitoring and testing broadband performance to, in its own words, "provide Australian consumers with accurate and independent information about broadband speeds."

Specifically the ACCC will test and monitor NBN connections, so if you’re still waiting around on ADSL or Cable connections the results it publishes won’t have much meaning for you.

Absolute methodologies for testing haven’t yet been disclosed, but unknotting the myriad ways that a network connection can unravel isn’t a trivial business. The ACCC says that it will use hardware devices to sample a representative group of fixed line NBN technologies, as well as a selected sample of alternate NBN-like connections " to also provide a broader view of the state of broadband performance in Australia."

The focus on fixed line technologies means that it won’t show the state of the fixed wireless or satellite NBN market, although that should still address the majority of the NBN market in years to come.

The ACCC is aiming high, however, claiming that its figures will show both whether potential problems in NBN infrastructure as well as at the ISP end.

In a statement, ACCC chair Rod Sims said that "The program will also allow the ACCC to determine if issues are being caused by the performance of the NBN, or by internet service providers (ISPs) not buying sufficient capacity. It will also provide ISPs with independent performance information from which to draw when making speed claims."

The scheme is scheduled to run over four years with an estimated cost of 7 million dollars.

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