The ACCC today opened a program where 4000 households will be recruited to test broadband speeds across the country - 2000 of them starting this year. Because a wide cross-section of households from around the country are needed to sign up, from a range of retail service providers, using a range of broadband technologies on different tiered speed plans - there's a public call out.
Typical speeds and performance of home internet connections are what's being looked at, with an independent provider conducting the actual testing. NBN services, some ADSL and next generation fibre services will be tested. At this stage, the program will not test mobile, satellite or fixed-wireless broadband services.
"Selected volunteers will be instructed on how to install a hardware-based testing device on their fixed-line home broadband connection," the ACCC says. "The testing device will conduct tests using your internet connection between the testing device and the Program's monitoring equipment. The device will not monitor or record any personal information or browsing history."
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, you can complete an expression of interest form here before July 31. If you're selected, the ACCC will contact you directly using the details you provide.
Selected volunteers will be instructed on how to install a hardware-based testing device on their fixed-line home broadband connection. The testing device will conduct tests using your internet connection between the testing device and the Program's monitoring equipment.
"Volunteers won't be paid to participate in the program, and it won't cost anything to participate," the ACCC says. "A small amount of your broadband data will be used to conduct testing – the international experience tells us that this has no impact or very minimal impact on testing volunteers."
The ACCC says the broadband monitoring program will help provide consumers with accurate, independent and comparable information about broadband speeds and performance. When published, it says, you will be able to use this information to shop around for the best deal, as well as to check that you're getting what you paid for.
"Consumers spend over $4 billion per year on fixed-line broadband services, and they need access to accurate information to assist them in choosing plans," the ACCC says. "The broadband monitoring program will involve testing around 4,000 households across Australia and around 2,000 volunteers in the first year to determine typical broadband speeds and performance at various times during the day."
The volunteer testing panel will be set up in the second half of 2017, with data being published by the end of the year.
It's worth noting the ACCC says it may need to disclose certain information to third parties - including the appointed testing provider (who may be located in Australia or overseas), network operators and your internet service provider in order to verify your address, type of service and your participation in the program.