NBN’s New Advertising Rules Explained

NBN’s New Advertising Rules Explained
Image: ACCC and NBNCo

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.


  • I think your only Bold heading has a typo and should read “What if my RSP isn’t delivering?” instead of of.

    I’m one of the lucky few on FTTP 🙂
    It shouldn’t be a lucky few ……….. But that’s a topic that’s sadly come and gone 🙁
    On my 100/40 MyRepublic Plan Im very happy with it staying at its 100/40 speeds for the most part.. In the evenings it does drop to as low as 20Mbps, but that’s still twice what it was prior to having a FTTP connection.

    • Fixed.

      But – that 20Mbps in the evening isn’t really good enough – it’s nowhere near what you’re paying for. So, under the ACCC’s new suggestions, you could get a credit or refund for that underperformance, or the RSP should take action to remediate it.

      • For awhile now Internode has been listing their expected peak (7pm-11pm) speeds (maybe because they knew the ACCC recommendations were coming). I really like that they explain in fairly simple terms what can affect speed (especially for non-FTTP installs).


        While I’m not exactly chuffed when I see that I can “only” expect 65Mbit on a 100Mbit plan in the evening at least they’re up front about it. And truth be told most nights it’s actually better than that anyway.

        I think the possibility for getting a credit/refund for poor performance is long overdue. It’s essentially false advertising or a faulty product otherwise. People wouldn’t be happy buying a car that could only do 20kmph in the evening or an electric company that only supplied 20% power at night when you’re trying to cook dinner. Why should we be happy with a similar situation with internet?

  • As someone who has peak usage at random times between 8am and 11pm (15 hours) this still isn’t good enough, it should be a minimum guaranteed speed full stop not within a certain time frame, overall peak times change.

        • Yeah, that’s what I thought, then this info is entirely relevant to you, it’s telling you that during peak periods people are getting that average speed, as you’re mostly operating outside the times of peake usage you should be fine? It means if you absolutely need the highest speed you can perhaps try to avoid the peak periods if possible or at least know what you’re in for.

          • No it doesn’t, it says during the evening you can expect this speed, doesn’t do a thing to tell me what i can expect at 10am.

          • Dude, logic dictates that if these are the speeds you can expect during PEAK periods then outside these periods you’ll get AT LEAST these speeds and probably much greater?

  • Of course this will now have the non-technical people bitching and moaning about speeds not being met when the remote server is the bottleneck. Not to mention the people that get surprised when a speedtest only gives 20mbps on their 60mbps plan but don’t consider the 3 kids watching YouTube while the wife is video conferencing as being “downloads”.

      • A simple throughput app would work. There are a bunch of bandwidth monitoring apps available and it’s relatively simple to code one. I know Internode’s MuM tool (3rd party but pretty much official) monitors bandwidth, pretty sure the official Telstra one does too. Heck even Windows Task Manager has a Network tab that you can use to easily watch bandwidth.

        And the MuM tool has a link on it’s Network tab to “Download Test File” which gives you an easy speed test straight from an Internode Server.

        Of course, if you’re using an ISP supplied tool you’re trusting that it’s reporting data honestly. Though, they’d be crazy to report false data since it’d be found out pretty quickly and destroy their reputation.

  • If you had your kids watching youtube / netflix, you would expect to see ping and download speed suffer, but not upload.

    I have not seen an nbn routers web interface as of yet, but i would suspect there to be some form of statistics, which would be able to show the kids + speed test bandwidth to give the whole picture.

    In reality i am genuinly suprised nbnco did not tweak the firmware to prioritise the small number of common speed test websites traffic, it would be a cheap patch to make there service look as good as possible.

    • That’s because the traffic to speedtest websites is not on the NBNco controlled layer 2 network. You are talking layer 3 traffic which is ISP controlled and they actually do prioritise the speedtest traffic. Not that it helps because they dont buy enough backhaul bandwidth which is where the bottlenecks are for a lot of people.

      Some people are trapped on the local loop type connections (FTTN, HFC) where local congestion is also a big factor. This can only be remedied by adding more connection nodes and reducing the size of the groups reliant on any one connection node.

  • It looks like Australia and New Zealand took lessons from us Yanks. The latest “big lie” from our major US carriers is “UP TO 20 Megabit!” Up to? Seriously? Well, if it is 5 Megs on the download and only 1 or less on the upload, I am quick to realize that the 3 year contract i just signed has me screwed. Reading the fine print? No. This was their advertising pitch. “UP TO 20” does not mean twenty. It means whatever they want it to mean, knowing when the school children arrive home at 3pm, internet capacity will really go to hell.
    I learned in Aussie bars that when I ask for a Pint, I want a Pint, up to the line. Try giving an Aussie 10 or 20% of that promised pint and I’ll show you a bartender with a headache. Telecom NZ was even worse. Blame these Yank carriers, I guess…
    Bobby Vassallo

    • Nah, we’ve done that for a long time, this is actually to try and solve that problem by requiring them to publish actual average speeds rather than a theoretical maximum

    • @ bobbyvassallo Unsure when you were last in NZ. We really just don’t have speed issues here any more. When you purchase a 100Mb/s Fibre service that’s the speed you get anytime of the day. On older copper technologies (ADSL2 and VDSL) they are not sold on speed it’s as fast as the line will go. Andy

      • Andy, it has been 7 years, and admittedly, no such fiber existed. A 100 Meg fiber circuit should be 100 Megs, hoping the upload is symmetrical. Glad to hear. We worked on wireless in Qtown and out that way. But, internet was pretty anemic all over NZ with Telecom NZ having no incentive to improve services. Glad to hear things have improved.

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