After going to tender, the ACCC has appointed SamKnows to deliver the Measuring Broadband Program that the regulator saying they will test speeds across 4000 homes over three years. The first half of those installations will happen next year with the first data expected at the end of the first quarter of 2018.
SamKnows is a UK company that has been involved in broadband testing for almost a decade. Their platform uses what the call The Whitebox, a device that monitors internet performance. The metrics it delivers are download and upload speeds, latency, DNS, packet loss and the performance of applications across your connection including VoIP, websites and video streaming.
That should help with two things; the raw performance and whether service delivery over a connection is working as expected. There's little point having a notionally fast link if the applications you access don't work for some reason. This should help clarify where the network is at fault and where some other factor might be part of any performance issues.
It was only this morning, before the announcement, that we noted the process of getting the monitoring program was taking a long time. Perhaps today's announcement was brought forward to counter that.
In addition to announcement of the monitoring solution, the ACCC revealed the findings of its initial review into NBN broadband advertising and whether things have improved following the publication of its industry guidance in August.
“We are pleased to report that Telstra and Optus have recently changed their marketing information to provide their customers with comparable information about the typical busy period broadband speeds that they can expect on various plans,” ACCC boss Rod Sims said.
It's pretty easy to play the blame game with the NBN - goodness knows the repeated missteps, changes in strategy and underestimation of the complexity of the engineering challenges have left NBNCo open to significant criticism. But getting some hard data to test the claims of the network operator and RSPs, as well as getting the market to be clearer in how they advertise services is a good step forward.