Internet service providers will soon have to announce download speeds – Telco/ISP

Australian internet service providers have three months to add ‘typical peak period’ download speed information to their websites for fixed broadband services.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said yesterday [pdf] that download claims should appear “prominently… at least on retail vendors’ websites”, but not in “all forms of marketing materials”.

This was a concession to the industry, which had almost universally opposed the release of download speed data, primarily due to concerns about cost, usefulness, and need.

The ACCC said “most retail providers have moderated their initial concerns” about costs through additional consultations.

The commission did, however, make some key concessions: limiting where uplink speeds must be mentioned in marketing, and also allowing speeds to be estimated on fixed networks, if measuring them more precisely would be too complex or costly.

The standard estimate will appear as a speed claim “i.e. 15% below maximum download speed in product description”.

“For example, for a retail product with peak download/upload speeds of 50/20 Mbps, a 15% reduction on the 20 Mbps download speed would be 17 Mbps,” the ACCC said.

“A reduction of 15% is a conservative estimate based on landline technology with the lowest download speeds (FTTN).”

Retail providers will also have to disclose “typical peak period” download speeds for fixed wireless services, but will have more time to do so – six months.

However, fixed wireless estimates will not be accepted as meeting marketing guidelines.

It looks like the three and six month periods are to be measured from yesterday, October 31, which would mean published download speeds for landline services by the end of January 2023 and for landline wireless by the end of April.

Telstra had asked the ACCC to consider limiting where download speed data should be published.

“Our biggest concern is that any new requirements for disclosing information about download speeds in marketing materials must be relevant to customers, avoid adding clutter and complexity to our headline advertising, and minimize any extension of the already onerous set of regulatory obligations we face for broadband speed claims,” Telstra said. [pdf]

“If this disclosure is required, it should, at most, only be included in longer marketing material (e.g. online or in CIS [critical information summaries] or key information sheets) chosen by the retail service provider, but not in all marketing materials. »

Other RSPs had outright opposed the proposal.

“Vocus does not support the ACCC’s proposal that retail service providers provide information about typical download speed during peak marketing times,” he said. [pdf]

“We see no compelling reason to be required to provide this information.

“Adding this representation to existing highly prescriptive marketing requirements may add to customer confusion.”

The ACCC first raised the prospect of adding download speed claims to its marketing guidelines in early 2022.

He cited statistics from the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) on the proportion of complaints about slow speeds attributed to download problems.

This was a direct response to the industry, which had disputed whether there was evidence that the level of download-related complaints warranted action.

The ACCC argued that there was more interest among certain consumer groups in general now about the type of download speeds they should expect to see on purchased packages.

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