NBN provider MyRepublic has been ordered by the ACCC to pay penalties totalling $25,200 for alleged false or misleading representations about its NBN service performance. The ACCC said MyRepublic marketed its NBN services using statements such as “up to nbn100 Speed Tier” and “nbn50 Speed Tier” but that fine print disclaimers were ineffective as they were not prominent and did not provide clear information.
ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said “We were concerned that MyRepublic’s use of the NBN speed tiers misled consumers to believe they would get broadband speeds of, or close to, 100Mbps and 50Mbps during all or almost all of the time, when that wasn’t the case”.
NBN advertising has been on the ACCC's radar for some time. The regulator released some advertising standards so that Retail Service Providers (RSPs) knew what was expected of them. And while the ACCC can't tell companies how to advertise, guidelines like that given RSPs plenty of notice about what the ACCC will be looking for when it comes to being clear to consumers.
The fines levied against MyRepublic by the ACCC may seems relatively small - they amount to less than the cost if a small car but they send a signal to the entire market that clarity to consumers is paramount. It follows actions taken against Optus recently.
And as NBN Co has tweaked its rollout strategy and required RSPs to purchase Connectivity Virtual Circuit (CVC) so RSPs can deliver on the promises they make, there's been less leeway for RSPs to exaggerate what they can deliver to end use customers.
In addition, we're seeing the ACCC increase their monitoring of NBN services and CHOICE has their own broadband performance monitoring project (there's an FAQ that describes that program).
For consumers, the good news is that many RSPs are doing a better ob of representing the performance you can expect from your NBN connection, assuming you can get one. That includes both peak performance and what you can expect at different times of the day.
But the days of finding out the difference between theoretical performance and actual performance, by looking at the fine print, as MyRepublic have discovered, are behind us.