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Telstra, Optus, TPG fined: Are you getting ripped off for internet?

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The federal court fined Telstra, Optus and TPG after they failed to deliver on advertised internet speeds to 120,000 customers.

The 3 major internet providers have been fined a total of $33.5 million after they failed to provide some of their customers with internet at the speeds they were paying for.

Each was brought to federal court by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) for making false statements on their websites, via telesales and in emails.

What exactly were Telstra, Optus and TPG fined for?

The misleading statements were made for at least 12 months in 2019 and/or 2020.

They each promised and subsequently failed to tell customers within a reasonable timeframe if the speeds they were paying for couldn't be reached on their NBN connections.

Customers were also promised they would be offered the option to move to cheaper plans with a refund if they couldn't achieve the maximum speeds. In the end, those customers weren't notified.

ACCC commissioner Liza Carver said, "Some customers may have paid for a 50 or 100Mbps plan believing their NBN connection could support the higher download speeds, even though they would have been better off paying for a lower speed plan."

"It is illegal for businesses to make false or misleading representations to consumers about the performance characteristics, nature, standard or quality of products and services," she continued.

Telstra agreed to pay a fine of $15 million, Optus agreed to pay $13.5 million and TPG agreed to pay $5 million.

How do I know what speed I'm getting?

Telcos are required by law to quote the typical evening download speeds a customer can expect on a particular NBN plan during the busiest period of the day (7pm to 11pm).

The NBN Co provides guidance around the maximum download speed you can expect on any speed tier.

Perform a speed test to see how fast your internet connection is.

What do I do if I think I'm being ripped off?

Reach out to your provider first for guidance.

There could be a couple of reasons you're not getting the performance you might want.

This can include problems with your modem, viruses, too many people using the internet at once or other hardware issues.

You may need to get a technician to help solve the problem. If they find nothing wrong on your end, it may fall back on your provider.

If your provider fails to solve the problem, it's worth lodging a complaint with the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman.

Once you've lodged your complaint, compare internet plans to see what else is out there.

Which internet providers have the most reliable speeds?

The ACCC monitors 12 major internet plan providers and releases that data on a quarterly basis. The report shows which providers offer the maximum speed available most reliably.

In the latest report released in August, Exetel came out on top.

It delivered maximum plan speeds 103.5% of the time for all hours and 102.3% of the time during the crucial peak times.

View Exetel's internet plans

Spintel, which isn't monitored as part of the ACCC broadband performance report, is another good option.

It advertises high typical evening speeds and is also one of the cheapest providers available.

Its NBN 50 plan was awarded Best NBN Plan (Everyday Use) and its NBN 100 Plan was awarded Best NBN Plan (Fast Speeds) in the Finder Broadband Awards 2022.

View Spintel's internet plans

After Spintel, finalists Tangerine and Superloop are other options with prices at the lower end of the scale.

Curious about other internet options? Take a 4G or 5G home wireless plan for a spin.

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