Government to monitor internet speeds: Holding ISPs and NBN to account

Wondering which ISP is offering the best speeds? We're going to find out

There’s a fair bit of debate about the NBN and speeds consumers are getting at home that may differ widely from the speeds being advertised, and as a result the Government has announced it will fund a program to monitor just that.

The reason for the conjecture is the blame game – just who is responsible for the speed issues?

On the one hand the NBN gets all the grief because consumer say “I connected to the NBN and it’s slow”, so the perception is that the “nbn is slow”, but in fact there are a lot of factors at play that will determine just why your connection is slow.

Firstly, there is the speed plan that you chose: 12, 25, 50 or 100.  That’s critical because lots of people are being signed up to the 12 megabit plan and “expecting” things to be better.

Secondly, there’s the quality of your NBN connection.  Is your house to far from the node?  Are there actual networking issues on your NBN connection.

Thirdly, and to be frank – most likely, does your Internet provider actually have enough bandwidth in their network and connectivity into the NBN to cater for the speeds you’ve chosen and the number of customers they have themselves connected.

The Federal Government program will use actual hardware devices installed in around 4,000 households to check the speeds across different times of the day.

ACCC Chairman Rod Sims says “This program will see the ACCC test and report on the typical speed and performance of broadband plans provided over the NBN. This information will assist consumers in comparing and shopping around, and checking that they receive what they are paying for,” .

“[it] will also allow the ACCC to determine if issues are being caused by the performance of the NBN, or by internet service providers (ISPs) not buying sufficient capacity. It will also provide ISPs with independent performance information from which to draw when making speed claims.”

“The ACCC will begin publishing data later this year as a large number of consumers move to the NBN,” Mr Sims said.

He went on to say “The ACCC’s program will encourage ISPs to compete for business and tailor their products to meet the needs of their customers. It will also provide better consumer information – all of which is currently lacking in the Australian broadband market,”

However, the Communications Alliance is worried this monitoring will favour the large Internet providers and disadvantage the smaller ones,  Communications Alliance CEO John Stanto said “Although the ACCC has told industry today that it doesn’t yet know how many service providers will be included in the regime, it has previously indicated that it expects this will be limited to something like the five largest players,” 

“Smaller ISPs are worried that being out of the limelight of the published results will cost them customers and damage their businesses, 

“The regulator, which exists to promote competition, needs to ensure that it does not engineer the opposite outcome.”

 

The ACCC will commence the monitoring program in May.

 

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Trevor produces two of the most popular technology podcasts in Australia, Your Tech Life and Two Blokes Talking Tech. He has a weekly radio show on 2UE, as well as appearances across the country and regularly provides Technology Commentary to Channel 9’s Today Show and A Current Affair. Father of three, he is often found down in his Man Cave. Like this post? Buy Trev a drink!
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