Aside from all the deployment challenges that NBNCo has faced, one of the other big issues has been customers have not received connections that run at the expected speeds. Many people that signed up for 50MBps plans, for example, have not seen those kinds of speeds and, in many cases, performance drops significantly in peak periods. In response, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has proposed a new “labelling” system to clarify what customers can expect.
Although the information provided by Retail Service Providers (RSPs) will still include the theoretical maximum connection speed, the ACCC is advising RSPs to be clear about what performance can be expected during peak usage periods. For example, if you’ve signed up for a 50Mbps plan but the RSP knows that network congestion will drop that back to 15Mbps during peak usage times, then they need to tell you up front.
The ACCC has suggested that RSPs adopt a system whereby they tell you if a connection will be capable of less that 15Mbps, or a minimum of 15Mbps, 30Mbps or 60Mbps during the peak 7:00PM to 11:00PM period.
One of the interesting nuances in the ACCC’s advice is RSPs are expected to be able to answer questions about what plans best suit your needs. While, in the past, we were sold plans on the basis of theoretical maximums and traffic volumes, it’s possible RSPs will ask about when you’re most active online so that you connect over the most appropriate plan.
Late last year, the ACCC directed Optus to refund customers who didn’t receive the expected performance from their NBN connections. In the comments to that story, a number of readers noted that the existing “up to” style of advertising was an issue. Hopefully, this new “suggestion” by the ACCC will add further clarity for consumers.
What if my RSP isn’t delivering?
If your NBN connection isn’t performing at the level you expect than your first course of action is to call your RSP, not NBNCo. RSPs buy network capacity from NBNCo that they on-sell to you.
If the RSP cannot fix it promptly, then you’ll be entitled to refunds, compensation, billing reductions, rebates, a change of plan, or cost-free contract exit.